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Introduction: Understanding the differences in beliefs and practices regarding infant feeding and rearing practices is important for the successful delivery of health messages and services, especially in a country like India with many religion and diverse customs and practices.
Objectives: To assess the infant feeding and rearing practices among mothers in Coastal South India and to study the factors influencing their practices.
Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted among 152 expectant multigravida and post- natal mothers, in three associated teaching hospitals of Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore; in Coastal South India, using a semi structured questionnaire. Analysis of collected data was done using SPSS version 11.5, Chi-square test was applied and p value < 0.05 was taken as statistically significant.
Results: The mean age of the mother was 25.75 years (SD: 3.6) and 57.9 % of the mothers practiced exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) their child and 34.9% mothers had given prelacteal feeds to the newborn. Oil massage to the baby was practiced by 98.7% of the mothers and 51.3% applied substances like boric acid, oil and turmeric powder on the umbilical stump. The association between socioeconomic status and EBF was found to be statistically significant (p<0.05). 38.8% mothers continued breast feeding up to a period of one year. Mothers belonging to joint family breast fed the child for more than a year compared to those belonging to nuclear families (64.5% v/s 35.5% & p<0.05).
Conclusion: The overall awareness about infant feeding practices among mothers was low despite the study area having high literacy rate and quality antenatal services. The EBF was practiced by only half of the interviewed mothers. Family type and socio cultural factors affected the infant feeding & rearing practices among the mothers in the study area.
Child rearing practices, Exclusive Breast feeding, Prelacteal feeds, Colostrum, South India