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Soc Sci Med. 1993 Apr;36(7):937-47.

Child feeding practices in a rural area of Zimbabwe.

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Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Rutgers University, Camden, NJ 08102.


This paper reports preliminary results from a study of child feeding practices in a rural area of Zimbabwe. Although Zimbabwe has relatively low infant mortality rates, it still has high child malnutrition rates. Several factors, including sex roles and relations between the sexes, access to resources, food costs and availability, time and energy costs of food production and preparation, and illness beliefs and practices, especially those concerning diarrhea and malnutrition, are examined as possible determinants of feeding practices and nutritional and health status. Results are compared to reports made by the World Bank and the Zimbabwe national nutrition survey. Whereas the World Bank report suggests a problem of late introduction of breastmilk supplements or solids, we found the opposite tendency of early introduction (by 3 months) of supplements. We suggest that mothers' pragmatic attitudes, interacting with certain social, cultural, and economic variables, are important factors influencing their child feeding decisions, especially resisting the use of commercial infant formula, at least in this rural area, and promoting prolonged breastfeeding.

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