Early complementary feeding: the role of social support networks.
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This study examined the role of social support networks in promoting early complementary feeding in Kangemi, Kenya. Employing both qualitative and quantitative methods, this study was conducted in 3 phases. Phase 1 included ethnography of infant feeding and social support, phase 2 included a 5-month prospective study of 211 mother-infant pairs, and phase 3 consisted of case studies of 13 breast-feeding women. The study revealed knowledge of exclusive breast-feeding was generally high and maternity practices were supportive of breast-feeding initiation. Despite the high level of knowledge on breast-feeding as promoted by health authorities, only few mothers practice exclusive breast-feeding. Giving of foods and fluids to infants was a common practice. It was also noted that a low social support was found to be significantly associated with full breast-feeding. Implications for policy and program intervention are outlined.