Effect of nutrition education on exclusive breastfeeding for nutritional outcome of low birth weight babies

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Background/Objectives:Low birth weight (LBW), defined as the body weight at birth of less than 2500g, is a major public health problem in Bangladesh, where 37% of the babies are born with LBW. The objective of this study is to see the impact of nutrition education on growth of LBW babies with early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding compared to control group.Subjects/Methods:A total of 184 LBW babies and their mothers who attended the Maternal Care and Health Training Institute and Dhaka Medical College Hospital were randomly allocated to either intervention or control group. Enrollment of the study population started in May 2008 and was completed in October 2008. Nutrition education was given to mothers twice weekly for 2 months, on initiation of breastfeeding within 1 h, exclusive breastfeeding and increasing their dietary intake. Nutritional status of LBW babies was assessed for length and weight every 2 weeks. Data were analyzed using SPSS/Window's version 12. Comparison of mean of data was done using standard Student's t-test.Results:Mean initial body weight and length of LBW babies were similar in both groups (2261±198 g vs 2241±244 g, P = 0.535 and 43.0±1.3cm vs 43.0±1.7 cm, P = 0.77). Body weight and length of the LBW babies after 2 months increased significantly (3620±229g vs 3315±301 g, P < 0.001 and 50.2±1.3cm vs 48.7±1.6cm, P < 0.001). It was found that the intervention group suffered less from respiratory illness compared with the control group (39% vs 66%, P < 0.001). The rate of early initiation of breastfeeding was also significantly higher with nutrition intervention (59.8% vs 37.2%, P < 0.001). Exclusive breastfeeding rate was significantly higher in intervention group (59.8% vs 37%, P = 0.003).Conclusions:The present study showed that weight and length gain of LBW babies significantly increased by breastfeeding and nutrition education. Therefore, nutrition education on breastfeeding proves to be a strong tool to reduce the high risk of malnutrition and mortality of the LBW babies.

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