Introduction The single most cost effective intervention to reduce infant mortality in developing countries would be by promoting exclusive breastfeeding. Breastfeeding should be initiated immediately after child birth and should be continued exclusively up to a maximum of 6 months. In India where a majority of the population has a low income and poor education, the need for breastfeeding represents the effective way of giving child a fair chance of survival and good health. The objective of the present study was to describe the association between exclusive breastfeeding and socio-economic demographic & cultural variables.
Methods The data for the study was taken from nationwide District Level Health Survey- 3 (DLHS-3) conducted in 2007–2008. The statistical tests used were Kaplan-Meier survival curves & Cox proportional hazard model.
Results The mean duration of exclusive breastfeeding in India was found 3.31 months (95% CI 3.08 to 3.15) while it was found almost 4.15 months (4.03 to 4.28) in low infant mortality states in southern India compared to 1.5 months (1.45 to 1.54) in high infant mortality states in northern India. The analysis showed that no maternal education (p<0.001), being an unemployed mother (p<0.001), and Muslims (p<0.001) were important associations of early cessation of exclusive breastfeeding.
Conclusion The study showed that survival status of the child had a significant impact on the duration of exclusive breastfeeding. Also it was found that the time of initiation of breastfeeding after birth was an important determinant for total duration of exclusive breastfeeding.
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