The Influence of Seasonality and Community-Based Health Worker Provided Counselling on Exclusive Breastfeeding

Findings from a Cross-Sectional Survey in India

Citation: Das A, Chatterjee R, Karthick M, Mahapatra T, Chaudhuri I (2016) The Influence of Seasonality and Community-Based Health Worker Provided Counselling on Exclusive Breastfeeding - Findings from a Cross-Sectional Survey in India. PLoS ONE 11(8): e0161186. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0161186
Published: August 11, 2016

Abstract
Background: Exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) during the first six months of life is considered a high impact but low-cost measure for reducing the morbidity and mortality among children. The current study investigated the association of seasonality and frontline worker(FLW) provided counselling with practice of EBF in Bihar, India.
Methods: We used the ‘Lot Quality Assurance Sampling’ technique to conduct a multi-stage sampling survey in 8 districts of Bihar. Regarding EBF, mothers of 0–5 (completed) months old children were asked if they had given only breastmilk to their children during the previous day, while mothers of 6–8 (completed) months old children were inquired about the total duration of EBF. We tested for association between EBF during the previous day with season of interview and EBF for full 6 months with nursing season. We also assessed if receiving counselling on EBF and complementary feeding had any association with relevant EBF indicators.
Results: Among the under-6 month old children, 76% received EBF during the previous day, whereas 92% of 6–8 (completed) months old children reportedly received EBF for the recommended duration. Proportion of 0–5 (completed) month old children receiving only breastmilk (during last 24 hours) decreased significantly with increasing age and with change of season from colder to warmer months. Odds of receiving only breastmilk during the previous day was significantly higher during the winter months (Adjusted odds ratio(AOR) = 1.50; 95% CI = 1.37, 1.63) compared to summer. Also, the children nursed primarily during the winter season had higher odds of receiving EBF for 6 months (AOR = 1.90, 95% CI = 1.43, 2.52) than those with non-winter nursing. Receiving FLW-counselling was positively associated with breastfeeding exclusively, even after adjusting for seasonality and other covariates (AOR = 1.82; 95% CI = 1.67, 1.98).
Conclusions: Seasonality is a significant but non-modifiable risk factor for EBF. However, FLW-counselling was found to increase practice of EBF irrespective of season. Scale-up of FLW-counselling services, with emphasis on summer months and mothers of older infants, can potentially reduce the impact of seasonality on EBF.

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