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IRIN Examines Exclusive Breastfeeding Practices In Kenya

IRIN examines exclusive breastfeeding practices in Kenya, writing, “The country’s push for exclusive breastfeeding appears to be working; according to the 2009 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey, 32 percent of babies are exclusively breastfed up to the age of six months, up from just 13 percent in 2003.” Kenya hopes “a new law (.doc) banning the promotion of infant formula … will contribute to the government’s push to encourage all mothers to breastfeed exclusively for at least six months,” the news service writes. IRIN continues, “Kenya has adopted the [WHO] recommendation that HIV-positive mothers should exclusively breastfeed their infants for the first six months of life, introducing appropriate complementary foods thereafter, and continue breastfeeding for the first 24 months of life.”

“Nevertheless, challenges to safe infant feeding — a major part of prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission — remain,” IRIN writes, adding, “[M]ost infants are still given complementary food before they hit the six-month mark, something that can be partly attributed to misinformation and cultural pressure to provide complementary feeding.” According to the news service, “Experts say the message of exclusive breastfeeding must be disseminated across the board, and not just to specific groups of women.” IRIN adds, “Studies have shown that some women in western Kenya eschew health center deliveries because they believe it is only necessary for HIV-positive women. Similar misconceptions may affect exclusive breastfeeding rates” (12/4).