Background: Exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) for the first six months of infants' lives is a cost effective intervention in saving children's lives and can avert 13 - 15% of the 9 million deaths of children under 5 years old in resource poor settings. However, EBF rates have been shown to be low in resource poor settings, ranging between 20 and 40%. In Tanzania, the prevalence of EBF among infants under 6 months is 41%, with limited information on predictors of EBF. The aim of the study was to determine prevalence of EBF and its predictors in Kigoma Municipality, Western Tanzania.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in March to May 2010 among 402 consenting women, with infants aged 6 to 12 months, from randomly selected households. A questionnaire was used to collect information on demographic characteristics, knowledge of EBF, infant feeding practices, and on HIV status.
Results: The prevalence of EBF among women in Kigoma Municipality was 58%. Knowledge of EBF was relatively higher (86%) compared to the practice. In the multivariable analysis, women with adequate knowledge of EBF (AOR 5.4), women who delivered at health facilities (AOR 3.0) and women who had no problems related to breasts, like engorgement/cracked nipples (AOR 6.6) were more likely to exclusively breastfeed compared to others.
Conclusions: Prevalence of EBF in Kigoma municipality was slightly higher than the national figure of 41%, however it was way below the EBF prevalence of 90% recommended by the WHO. Strategies that target improving knowledge and skills for lactation management among women, as well as strategies to improve health facility delivery, may help to improve EBF in this setting.