"Background: Despite exclusive breastfeeding being a well recognized determinant of child survival, its practice is not up to the mark in our country. Various social customs and misconceptions act as a barrier to breastfeeding.
Methodology: To assess the practice and determinants of breast feeding a community based cross-sectional study using structured questionnaire was conducted during 1st August to 31st August 2009 among 116 mothers from four sub-centre areas under Mohanpur CHC of West Tripura district chosen by multistage sampling. Descriptive statistics, chi-square test and logistic regression analysis were used.
Result: Prevalence of exclusive breast feeding was 25%. Median time of initiating breast feeding was one hour following delivery, median duration of breast feeding was four months and median age of starting weaning was two months. Colostrum was fed by 87.9% women and advice regarding this was mainly obtained from the healthcare providers. Prelacteal feeding was practiced by 56% mothers and honey was the commonest prelacteal feed. With the improvement in mothers literacy, there was significant increase in colostrum feeding (p = 0.010) and decrease in prelacteal feeding (p = 0.007). Mothers parity, age, literacy, place of delivery, antenatal checkup and gender of the child were found to be signifi-cant determinants of exclusive breast feeding.
Conclusion: Improving literacy status, promoting antenatal checkup and encouraging institutional birth will reduce harmful infant feeding practices. As the health workers were the major source of information, they can initiate behavior change communication for promoting exclusive breast feeding in this community."
Key words: Breast feeding, Colostrum, Prelacteal feeding