Background: Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life is the optimal way to feed infants. However, recent studies suggest that exclusive breastfeeding rates in China remain low and are well below the recommended target. There has been evidence that a lack of awareness of, or exposure to, breastfeeding information is associated with poor breastfeeding practices. WeChat, the most widely used social networking platform in China, has shown some potential to promote health behaviours. We thus hypothesised that a breastfeeding intervention program delivered via WeChat would achieve at least a 10% increase in exclusive breastfeeding prevalence at 6 months compared to the control group.
Methods: A two-arm, parallel, multicentre randomised controlled trial of 1000 pregnant women will be conducted at four maternity hospitals of Chengdu, China. Eligible women who consent to participate in the trial will be recruited at 28-30 weeks of gestation, and randomly allocated to either the intervention group (participants receive breastfeeding-related information from WeChat) or the control group (participants receive non-breastfeeding information from WeChat) using a central randomisation system on a 1:1 ratio at each participating site. The primary outcomes are exclusive breastfeeding rate and full breastfeeding rate at 6 months postpartum. All randomised participants will be included in the outcome analyses with missing data being imputed based on the best-case and worst-case scenarios. Multilevel mixed regression models will be used in the primary analyses to assess the effectiveness of intervention program on the breastfeeding rates.
Discussion: This trial uses the most widely used social media program as a means of delivering messages to mothers to increase exclusive breastfeeding in China. Increasing exclusive breastfeeding will contribute to meeting the health and environmental goals of the Sustainable Development Guidelines. Trial registration ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04499404. Registered 5 August 2020-Retrospectively registered, https://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT04499404.
Keywords: Exclusive breastfeeding; Randomised controlled trial; Smart phone; WeChat.