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Open Access Research article

Patterns and determinants of breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices of Emirati Mothers in the United Arab Emirates

Hadia Radwan

Author Affiliations

Sr. Nutritionist in Community Nutrition Department, Tawam Hospital, Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Community Nutrition Department, Tawam Hospital, P.O. Box 17831, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates

BMC Public Health 2013, 13:171  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-171

Published: 25 February 2013

Abstract

Background

Breastfeeding is the preferred method of feeding for the infant. The present study aimed at investigating the different infant feeding practices and the influencing factors in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Methods

A convenient sample of 593 Emirati mothers who had infants up to 2 years of age was interviewed. The interviews included a detailed questionnaire and conducted in the Maternal and Child Health Centers (MCH) and Primary Health Centers (PHC) in three cities.

Results

Almost all the mothers in the study had initiated breastfeeding (98%). The mean duration of breastfeeding was 8.6 months. The initiation and duration of breastfeeding rates were influenced by mother’s age (P<0.034)and education(P<0.01), parity(OR=2.13; P<0.001), rooming in(OR=21.70; P<0.001), nipple problem(P<0.010) and use of contraception(P<0.034). As for the feeding patterns, the results of the multiple logistic analyses revealed that rooming in (OR=4.48; P<0.001), feeding on demand (OR=2.29; P<0.005) and feeding more frequently at night (P<0.001) emerged as significant factors associated with exclusive or predominantly breastfeeding practices. Among the 593 infants in the study, 24.1% had complementary feeding, 25% of the infants were exclusively breastfed, and 49.4% were predominantly breastfed since birth. About 30% of the infants were given nonmilk fluids such as: Anis seed drink (Yansun), grippe water and tea before 3 months of age. The majority of the infants (83.5%) in the three areas received solid food before the age of 6 months. A variety of reasons were reported as perceived by mothers for terminating breastfeeding. The most common reasons were: new pregnancy (32.5%), insufficient milk supply (24.4%) and infant weaned itself (24.4%).

Conclusions

In conclusion, infant and young child feeding practices in this study were suboptimal. There is a need for a national community-based breastfeeding intervention programme and for the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding as part of a primary public health strategy to decrease health risks and problems in the UAE.

Keywords:
Breastfeeding; Exclusive breastfeeding; Complementary feeding; Supplementation; United Arab Emirates