The effect of mother’s educational status on early initiation of breastfeeding: further analysis of three consecutive Nepal Demographic and Health Surveys
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Background: The World Health Organization recommends initiating breastfeeding within the first hour of birth. This study is aimed at assessing the effect of the mother’s education on early initiation of breastfeeding. Methods: Data from the Nepal Demographic and Health Surveys (NDHS) 2001, 2006 and 2011 were used which included 12,845 last born children born within 5 years before the surveys. Early initiation of breastfeeding was defined as the initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour after birth. Hierarchical modelling was used to ascertain the association of maternal education and early initiation of breastfeeding, after controlling for other covariates in a multiple logistic regression. Results: Maternal education was associated with a higher likelihood of early initiation of breastfeeding in each survey. Pooled data analysis revealed higher odds of early initiation of breastfeeding among the mothers with primary education (adjusted odds ratio (OR) 1.24, 95 % confidence interval (CI): 1.09, 1.42) and secondary or higher education (OR: 1.63 95 % CI: 1.42, 1.88). In the most recent NDHS 2011 survey, odds of early initiation of breastfeeding was higher among mothers with primary education (OR: 1.52; 95 % CI: 1.21, 1.91) and mothers with secondary or higher education (OR: 2.20; 95 % CI: 1.76, 2.76) compared to mothers with no education. Similarly, the odds of early initiation of breastfeeding was higher among mothers with secondary and higher education in the 2006 data (OR: 1.66; 95 % CI: 1.30, 2.12) and in 2001 (OR = 1.30; 95 % CI: 1.00, 1.67).Conclusions: As the association between a mother ’ s educational status and her likelihood of early initiation of breastfeeding increases, long-term approaches to prioritising education for women and girls should be explored. In the short term, uneducated mothers should be targeted with breastfeeding promotion strategies such as counselling and peer education.
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