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J Hum Lact. 2005 Aug;21(3):345-54.

Improving breastfeeding practices on a broad scale at the community level: success stories from Africa and Latin America.

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  • 1LINKAGES Project, Academy for Educational Development, Washington, DC, USA.


Large-scale community-level behavior change programs designed to improve breastfeeding practices were implemented in Bolivia, Ghana, and Madagascar. These programs reached sizable populations: Bolivia, 1 million; Ghana, 3.5 million; and Madagascar, 6 million. Over 3 to 4 years, timely initiation of breastfeeding (within 1 hour of birth) increased from 56% to 74% (P < .001) in Bolivia, 32% to 40% (P < .05) in Ghana, and 34% to 78% (P < .001) in Madagascar. Marked increases in exclusive breastfeeding of infants 0 to 6 months of age were also documented: from 54% to 65% (P < .001) in Bolivia, 68% to 79% (P < .001) in Ghana, and 46% to 68% (P < .001) in Madagascar. In Ghana and Madagascar, significant results were seen within 1 year of community interventions. The authors conclude that large-scale programs designed to improve breastfeeding practices are feasible and should be a central component of any child survival strategy.

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