Aim: This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of, and factors influencing, exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) at 6 months and continued breastfeeding (CBF) at 2 years.
Methods: Between January and February 2007, a cross-sectional study was conducted using a semi-structured questionnaire in 40 villages in the Vientiane capital and the Vientiane province of Lao PDR. A total of 400 mothers with children less than 2 years old were recruited by multistage random sampling. Based on the 1991 World Health Organization Breastfeeding Indicators, children were classified into three groups, 6-23-month-old children for assessing EBF at 6 months, 12-15-month-old children for CBF at 1 year and 20-23-month-old children for CBF at 2 years.
Results: The prevalence of EBF at 6 months and CBF at 2 years were 19.4% (n= 283) and 18.6% (n= 43), respectively. Some of the factors influencing EBF at 6 months in a univariate logistic regression model included: location of residence, (OR: 19.19, 95% CI 6.96-57.01), ethnicity (OR: 3.15, 95% CI 1.63-6.08), encouragement of the child's father (OR: 9.03, 95%CI 1.21-67.57) and inter-spousal communication (OR: 5.20, 95% CI 2.34-11.56). A majority of the mothers (75.0%) had watched television advertisements for infant formula from Thailand, and 48.4% reported that they wanted to buy formula milk after having watched them.
Conclusion: This study showed a low prevalence of EBF at 6 months in the studied area in Lao PDR. Some of the factors that had a strong impact on EBF at 6 months included: location of residence, ethnicity, father's involvement, early breastfeeding plan, Mother's Card in antenatal care and television advertisement. There may be opportunities for government to review a range of policies relating to paternal involvement, antenatal care and formula advertising that could help to improve EBF rate.