Time trends in the prevalence and determinants of age-appropriate breast feeding among children aged 0-23 months in Ghana: a pooled analysis of population-based surveys, 2003-2017

BMJ Open. 2022 Aug 25;12(8):e059928. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-059928.


Objective: We assessed the sociodemographic and maternal-child characteristics associated with age-appropriate breast feeding among children aged 0-23 months in Ghana.

Methods: We pooled data on 12 743 children aged 0-23 months from three Demographic and Health Surveys (2003, 2008 and 2014) and three Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (2006, 2011 and 2017-2018). The outcome was age-appropriate breast feeding from birth to 23 months, with age-appropriate breast feeding defined as exclusive breast feeding at 0-5 months (ie, at less than 6 months) and breastfeeding alongside appropriate complementary feeding at 6-23 months. Potential determinants were maternal-child sociodemographic, obstetric and healthcare factors. Logistic regression was used to determine the factors associated with age-appropriate breast feeding. We accounted for the complex sampling design of the cross-sectional surveys in the analysis.

Results: Most children aged 0-3 months were exclusively breastfed. Among children aged 4-5 months, the most common feeding pattern was breastfeeding alongside water and/or solid foods. Exclusive breastfeeding prevalence in children less than 6 months peaked in 2008 at 62.8% and declined to 42.9% in 2017. For 6-11 month olds, the percentage experiencing age-appropriate breast feeding has been stable over the last four surveys, ranging from 79.3% in 2008 to 81.1% in 2017. Age-appropriate breast feeding in 12-23 month olds declined from 77.8% in 2003 to 61.2% in 2017. Rural residence, younger age, non-facility births and multiple births were associated with decreased odds of exclusively breast feeding. For 6-11 month olds, age-appropriate breast feeding was less likely if the woman did not receive postnatal care. Younger age, being unmarried, high income, wanting a child later and earlier birth order were associated with decreased odds of age-appropriate breast feeding in 12-23 month olds.

Conclusion: Ghanaian children are now less likely to be exclusively breastfed than they were a decade ago. To succeed, breastfeeding promotion programmes should adopt approaches that address the predictors of suboptimal breast feeding at each age, as identified in this study.

Keywords: Community child health; Epidemiology; Nutrition; Public health.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Ghana / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence