Background: Optimal breastfeeding practices, comprising early initiation of breastfeeding (EIBF) within one hour of birth, exclusive
breastfeeding (EBF) for the first six months of age are vital for child survival, growth, and development. Over 50% of child mortality
due to under-nutrition globally have been attributed to insufficient breastfeeding. CDC’s 2018 Breastfeeding Report Card states that
in US less than 50% of infants were exclusively breastfed through 3 months and about 25% were exclusively breastfed through six
Aim: This project aimed to improve the early initiation and exclusive breast-feeding practices of rural women of Central India.
Methodology: This was a community-based clusterrandomized effectiveness trial, which was conducted through the peer mentors.
360 mother-child dyads from 36 AWC coverage areas were enrolled for the study. The study population was randomized into
intervention (n=180) and control groups (n=180) with one Anganwadi Center (AWC) as unit of randomization (18 cluster in each
group). Parenting intervention included a component on counselling of women on breastfeeding practices through scheduled,
customized home visits by trained and certified peer mentors. The control group received only standard care. The mothers were
assessed for early initiation of breast feeding and exclusive breast feeding till six months of delivery. Analysis was by intention to
Results: Early initiation of breast feeding and exclusive breast feeding in intervention group were significantly higher than in control
group (p<0.05). Score gains remained significant when controlling for mother’s education, wealth score and family size.
Conclusion: Breastfeeding counselling intervention delivered through community peer mentors can improve breastfeeding practices
in a rural set-up and can be scaled-up sustainably.
Khatib Mahalaqua Nazli