Factors Associated With Extended Breastfeeding in India

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Abstract

Background:

Extended breastfeeding duration is common in India. Extended breastfeeding protects the infant from infectious disease and promotes child spacing. In the 1990s, the median breastfeeding duration in India was 24 months.

Research aim:

This study aimed to investigate the median duration of breastfeeding in India and to identify the factors associated with extended breastfeeding to 24 months as recommended by the World Health Organization.

Methods:

This cross-sectional data analysis used nationally representative data from the 2011–2012 Indian Human Development Survey II. The outcome in this study was extended breastfeeding defined as breastfeeding to 24 months or more. Multivariate logistic regression was used to identify the factors associated with extended breastfeeding.

Results:

The median duration of breastfeeding was 12 months; approximately 25% of women breastfed 24 months or more. Women were at greater odds of breastfeeding 24 months or more if the infant was a boy compared with a girl, if the women lived in a rural area compared with an urban area, if the women were married at a young age (< 17 vs. 20 years or older at marriage), and if the delivery was assisted by a friend or relative compared with a doctor.

Conclusion:

The median duration of breastfeeding has decreased by 50% from 1992–1993 to 2011–2012. The women who continue to breastfeed 24 months or more tend to be more traditional (i.e., living in rural areas, marrying young, and having family/friends as birth attendants). Further research to study the health effect of decreased breastfeeding duration is warranted.

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