Infant Feeding Practices Implemented by HIV-Positive Mothers in South Africa
Vertical transmission of HIV can occur during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. The South African Department of Health issues infant feeding guidelines which should be communicated to women attending prenatal clinics. These guidelines aim to balance a reduced risk of HIV infection with the best opportunity for the infants to survive and thrive. This study attempted to identify 200 conveniently selected HIV-positive mothers' infant feeding knowledge and practices by conducting structured
... ducting structured face-to-face interviews in one province of South Africa. Although all mothers had received health education about infant feeding options and most were knowledgeable about breast feeding, the guidelines issued by the Department of Health were not adhered to. Some mothers were erroneously informed to avoid breastfeeding and no demonstrations were done about preparing formula feeds. Some mothers mixed breast and formula feeding and some introduced solid foods before their babies were six months old. Nurses working at prenatal and well-baby clinics, should be updated about revised official infant feeding guidelines to provide sustained relevant education about infant feeding to HIV-positive mothers. The outcomes of the South African programme to prevent vertical transmission of HIV could be jeopardised by mothers selecting inappropriate infant feeding options.