The safety of infant feeding practices in a semi-urban community in the North-West Province
Du Plessis, Susanna Jacoba
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In this mini-dissertation the aim was to explore and describe the safety of infant feeding practices. It is argued that safe infant feeding practices can have a positive and long term effect on the health status and growth development of all infants. World wide, countries but more specific developing countries, are faced with the growing dilemma of high mortality and morbidity rates among infants. The need to find a way to eliminate and prevent the causing factors of life-threatening infectious diseases like diarrhoea and HIV/AIDS is now more important than ever before. A sound nutritional foundation together with safe infant feeding methods play a predominant role in ensuring the very survival of the infant. A cross-sectional, descriptive research design was used in this study. Non-probability sampling was used to identify the sample who complied with the set selection criteria. The research took place in a semi-urban community as the community serves a large group of mothers and infants as well as being accessible to the researcher. The semi-urban community was also identified as an area with health care needs that could be addressed in the research project. A questionnaire was adapted from an existing WHO assessment tool. A pilot study was conducted after which the questionnaire was finalised and the questionnaires were completed with the aid of three fieldworkers. Data collection took place until the sample size (n=155) was achieved according to the calculation of the statistician. The data analysis was done by means of descriptive statistics such as frequency, percentage, mean and standard deviation by using the STATISTICA data analysis software system programme. The results of the research study indicated that the majority of participants practice mixed feeding methods which do not comply with safe infant feeding standards. Infant feeding methods are not changed during illness or disease experienced by either the mother or infant, which again may greatly compromise their health status. The uptake of HIV testing and disclosure were relatively high. Recommendations are made for nursing education, nursing research and nursing practice with special focus on establishing safe infant feeding practices.
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