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September 2022

Bull Pan Am Health Organ. 1992 ; 26(2): 148-56.

Maternal and infant feeding practices in rural Bolivia.

McCann MF, Bender DE.

Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599-7400.

Seventy-four members of mothers' clubs in a rural area outside of La Paz, Bolivia, were interviewed in order to learn more about maternal and infant nutritional practices and use of child health services. Most of the women used a combination of western and traditional child health services, though a substantial percentage used only traditional services. Almost all of their deliveries were attended solely by family members, most notably the pregnant woman's husband. All the interviewed mothers breast-fed their infants, although most gave them other prelacteal liquids in the immediate postpartum period. Breast milk supplementation generally began when the infants were between four and eight months old, occasionally later. Most of those interviewed said they stopped breast-feeding when they knew they were pregnant again; some continued breast-feeding through all or part of the pregnancy; only a small number stopped breast-feeding before they knew that they were pregnant. Almost all the women increased their food intake when they were breast-feeding, primarily by consuming additional liquids. These findings suggest that some current maternal and infant nutritional practices in the study area (such as universal breast-feeding and increased consumption of liquids by lactating mothers) should be encouraged, while others (particularly prelacteal feeding of liquids other than breast milk and late supplementation) should be discouraged. Both traditional and western health providers should be mobilized to perform this task.

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