EFFECTIVENESS OF EXCLUSIVE BREASTFEEDING IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF UNDER-5 CHILDREN
The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of exclusive breastfeeding in the development of children under-five in Benue State, Nigeria. To achieve this purpose, 10 hospitals were randomly selected using multi-stage sampling technique (simple random, stratified, and purposive sampling techniques). The data was collected using close-ended questionnaire. 500 questionnaires were distributed to nursing mothers who visited antenatal clinics in the randomly selected hospitals, from which 455 were duly completed and returned. Frequencies of percentages and cross tabulation statistics were used to answer research questions. Associations between demographic determinants and breastfeeding practices were analysed using Chi-square statistics at alpha level of 0.05 to test the formulated hypotheses. The findings of the study, indicated high (99.8%) prevalence of breastfeeding among nursing mothers, out of which 83.5% exclusively breastfed for up to 4-6 months. Only 16.5% however supplemented breastfeeding. The findings of the study revealed that; mother’s age significantly influenced the practice of exclusive and non-exclusive breastfeeding of babies, indicating high exclusive breastfeeding among mothers of 25years and above, and low exclusive breastfeeding among younger mothers of 19 years and below. The results further showed that, mother’s level of education significantly influenced the practice of exclusive and non-exclusive breastfeeding of babies, indicating high exclusive breastfeeding practice among literate mothers with at least secondary education. Those with low educational attainment had poor or low practice of exclusive breastfeeding. Based on the results of this study, the following conclusions are drawn: Mother’s age influence the practice of exclusive and non-exclusive breastfeeding of babies in Benue State. Mother’s level of education influenced the practice of exclusive and non-exclusive breastfeeding of babies in Benue State. Based on the conclusions, the following recommendations are made: Special interventions should be made for young mothers with poor breastfeeding practices usually (15-19years) by health care workers to encourage them endure the herculean task of breastfeeding, through education, and nursing support to enable them breastfeed exclusively. Since education remains the most viable means of reaching mothers on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, health care workers should intensify education to provide mothers with complete and current information on the methods of exclusive breastfeeding in order to increase mother’s knowledge of benefits of child development derived from exclusive breastfeeding.