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1.  Early cessation of breastfeeding amongst women in South Africa: an area needing urgent attention to improve child health 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:105.
Background
Breastfeeding is a critical component of interventions to reduce child mortality. Exclusive breastfeeding practice is extremely low in South Africa and there has been no improvement in this over the past ten years largely due to fears of HIV transmission. Early cessation of breastfeeding has been found to have negative effects on child morbidity and survival in several studies in Africa. This paper reports on determinants of early breastfeeding cessation among women in South Africa.
Methods
This is a sub group analysis of a community-based cluster-randomized trial (PROMISE EBF) promoting exclusive breastfeeding in three South African sites (Paarl in the Western Cape Province, and Umlazi and Rietvlei in KwaZulu-Natal) between 2006 and 2008 (ClinicalTrials.gov no: NCT00397150). Infant feeding recall of 22 food and fluid items was collected at 3, 6, 12 and 24 weeks postpartum. Women’s experiences of breast health problems were also collected at the same time points. 999 women who ever breastfed were included in the analysis. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression analysis adjusting for site, arm and cluster, was performed to determine predictors of stopping breastfeeding by 12 weeks postpartum.
Results
By 12 weeks postpartum, 20% of HIV-negative women and 40% of HIV-positive women had stopped all breastfeeding. About a third of women introduced other fluids, most commonly formula milk, within the first 3 days after birth. Antenatal intention not to breastfeed and being undecided about how to feed were most strongly associated with stopping breastfeeding by 12 weeks (Adjusted odds ratio, AOR 5.6, 95% CI 3.4 – 9.5 and AOR 4.1, 95% CI 1.6 – 10.8, respectively). Also important was self-reported breast health problems associated with a 3-fold risk of stopping breastfeeding (AOR 3.1, 95%CI 1.7 – 5.7) and the mother having her own income doubled the risk of stopping breastfeeding (AOR 1.9, 95% CI 1.3 – 2.8).
Conclusion
Early cessation of breastfeeding is common amongst both HIV-negative and positive women in South Africa. There is an urgent need to improve antenatal breastfeeding counselling taking into account the challenges faced by working women as well as early postnatal lactation support to prevent breast health problems.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-12-105
PMCID: PMC3441849  PMID: 22827969
2.  Maternal education is associated with vaccination status of infants less than 6 months in Eastern Uganda: a cohort study 
BMC Pediatrics  2010;10:92.
Background
Despite provision of free childhood vaccinations, less than half of all Ugandan infants are fully vaccinated. This study compares women with some secondary schooling to those with only primary schooling with regard to their infants' vaccination status.
Methods
A community-based prospective cohort study conducted between January 2006 and May 2008 in which 696 pregnant women were followed up to 24 weeks post partum. Information was collected on the mothers' education and vaccination status of the infants.
Results
At 24 weeks, the following vaccinations had been received: bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG): 92%; polio-1: 91%; Diphteria-Pertussis-Tetanus-Hepatitis B-Haemophilus Influenza b (DPT-HB-Hib) 3 and polio-3: 63%. About 51% of the infants were fully vaccinated (i.e., had received all the scheduled vaccinations: BCG, polio 0, polio 1, DPT-HB-Hib1, polio 2, DPT-HB-Hib 2, polio 3 and DPT-HB-Hib 3). Only 46% of the infants whose mothers' had 5-7 years of primary education had been fully vaccinated compared to 65% of the infants whose mothers' had some secondary education. Infants whose mothers had some secondary education were less likely to miss the DPT-HB-Hib-2 vaccine (RR: 0.5, 95% CI: 0.3, 0.8), Polio-2 (RR: 0.4, 95%CI: 0.3, 0.7), polio-3 (RR: 0.5, 95%CI: 0.4, 0.7) and DPT-HB-Hib-3 (RR: 0.5, 95%CI: 0.4, 0.7). Other factors showing some association with a reduced risk of missed vaccinations were delivery at a health facility (RR = 0.8; 95%CI: 0.7, 1.0) and use of a mosquito net (RR: 0.8; 95%CI: 0.7, 1.0).
Conclusion
Infants whose mothers had a secondary education were at least 50% less likely to miss scheduled vaccinations compared to those whose mothers only had primary education. Strategies for childhood vaccinations should specifically target women with low formal education.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-10-92
PMCID: PMC3019133  PMID: 21159193
3.  Zinc status in HIV infected Ugandan children aged 1-5 years: a cross sectional baseline survey 
BMC Pediatrics  2010;10:68.
Background
Low concentrations of serum zinc have been reported in HIV infected adults and are associated with disease progression and an increased risk of death. Few studies have been conducted in HIV infected children in Africa. We determined serum zinc levels and factors associated with zinc deficiency in HIV infected Ugandan children.
Methods
We measured the baseline zinc status of 247 children aged 1-5 years enrolled in a randomised trial for multiple micronutrient supplementation at paediatric HIV clinics in Uganda (http://ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00122941). Zinc status was determined using inductively coupled atomic emission spectrophotometry (ICP-AES). Clinical and laboratory characteristics were compared among zinc deficient (zinc < 10.0 μmol/L) and non deficient children. Logistic regression was used to determine predictors of low serum zinc.
Results
Of the 247 children, 134 (54.3%) had low serum zinc (< 10.0 μmol/L). Of the 44 children on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), 13 (29.5%) had low zinc compared to 121/203 (59.6%) who were not on HAART. Overall, independent predictors of low zinc were fever (OR 2.2; 95%CI 1.1 - 4.6) and not taking HAART (OR 3.7; 95%CI 1.8 - 7.6).
Conclusion
Almost two thirds of HAART naïve and a third of HAART treated HIV infected children were zinc deficient. Increased access to HAART among HIV infected children living in Uganda might reduce the prevalence of zinc deficiency.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-10-68
PMCID: PMC2955670  PMID: 20858275
4.  Need to optimise infant feeding counselling: A cross-sectional survey among HIV-positive mothers in Eastern Uganda 
BMC Pediatrics  2009;9:2.
Background
The choice of infant feeding method is important for HIV-positive mothers in order to optimise the chance of survival of their infants and to minimise the risk of HIV transmission. The aim of this study was to investigate feeding practices, including breastfeeding, in the context of PMTCT for infants and children under two years of age born to HIV-positive mothers in Uganda.
Methods
In collaboration with The Aids Support Organisation Mbale, we conducted a cross-sectional survey involving 235 HIV-positive mothers in Uganda. Infant feeding practices, reasons for stopping breastfeeding, and breast health problems were studied. Breastfeeding duration was analysed using the Kaplan-Meier method based on retrospective recall.
Results
Breastfeeding was initiated by most of the mothers, but 20 of them (8.5%) opted exclusively for replacement feeding. Pre-lacteal feeding was given to 150 (64%) infants and 65 (28%) practised exclusive breastfeeding during the first three days. One-fifth of the infants less than 6 months old were exclusively breastfed, the majority being complementary fed including breast milk. The median duration of breastfeeding was 12 months (95% confidence interval [CI] 11.5 to 12.5). Adjusted Cox regression analysis indicated that a mother's education, socio-economic status, participation in the PMTCT-program and her positive attitude to breastfeeding exclusively, were all associated with a reduction in breastfeeding duration. Median duration was 3 months (95% CI 0–10.2) among the most educated mothers, and 18 months (95% CI 15.0–21.0) among uneducated mothers. Participation in the PMTCT program and being socio-economically better-off were also associated with earlier cessation of breastfeeding (9 months [95% CI 7.2–10.8] vs. 14 months [95% CI 10.8–17.2] and 8 months [95% CI 5.9–10.1] vs. 17 months [95% CI 15.2–18.8], respectively). The main reasons for stopping breastfeeding were reported as: advice from health workers, maternal illness, and the HIV-positive status of the mother.
Conclusion
Exclusive breastfeeding was uncommon. Exclusive replacement feeding was practised by few HIV-positive mothers. Well-educated mothers, mothers who were socio-economically better-off and PMTCT-attendees had the shortest durations of breastfeeding. Further efforts are needed to optimise infant feeding counselling and to increase the feasibility of the recommendations.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-9-2
PMCID: PMC2657132  PMID: 19134187
5.  Boys are more stunted than girls in Sub-Saharan Africa: a meta-analysis of 16 demographic and health surveys 
BMC Pediatrics  2007;7:17.
Background
Many studies in sub-Saharan Africa have occasionally reported a higher prevalence of stunting in male children compared to female children. This study examined whether there are systematic sex differences in stunting rates in children under-five years of age, and how the sex differences in stunting rates vary with household socio-economic status.
Methods
Data from the most recent 16 demographic and health surveys (DHS) in 10 sub-Saharan countries were analysed. Two separate variables for household socio-economic status (SES) were created for each country based on asset ownership and mothers' education. Quintiles of SES were constructed using principal component analysis. Sex differentials with stunting were assessed using Student's t-test, chi square test and binary logistic regressions.
Results
The prevalence and the mean z-scores of stunting were consistently lower amongst females than amongst males in all studies, with differences statistically significant in 11 and 12, respectively, out of the 16 studies. The pooled estimates for mean z-scores were -1.59 for boys and -1.46 for girls with the difference statistically significant (p < 0.001). The stunting prevalence was also higher in boys (40%) than in girls (36%) in pooled data analysis; crude odds ratio 1.16 (95% CI 1.12–1.20); child age and individual survey adjusted odds ratio 1.18 (95% CI 1.14–1.22). Male children in households of the poorest 40% were more likely to be stunted compared to females in the same group, but the pattern was not consistent in all studies, and evaluation of the SES/sex interaction term in relation to stunting was not significant for the surveys.
Conclusion
In sub-Saharan Africa, male children under five years of age are more likely to become stunted than females, which might suggest that boys are more vulnerable to health inequalities than their female counterparts in the same age groups. In several of the surveys, sex differences in stunting were more pronounced in the lowest SES groups.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-7-17
PMCID: PMC1865375  PMID: 17425787
6.  Low adherence to exclusive breastfeeding in Eastern Uganda: A community-based cross-sectional study comparing dietary recall since birth with 24-hour recall 
BMC Pediatrics  2007;7:10.
Background
Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended as the best feeding alternative for infants up to six months and has a protective effect against mortality and morbidity. It also seems to lower HIV-1 transmission compared to mixed feeding. We studied infant feeding practices comparing dietary recall since birth with 24-hour dietary recall.
Methods
A cross-sectional survey on infant feeding practices was performed in Mbale District, Eastern Uganda in 2003 and 727 mother-infant (0–11 months) pairs were analysed. Four feeding categories were made based on WHO's definitions: 1) exclusive breastfeeding, 2) predominant breastfeeding, 3) complementary feeding and 4) replacement feeding. We analyzed when the infant fell into another feeding category for the first time. This was based on the recall since birth. Life-table analysis was made for the different feeding categories and Cox regression analysis was done to control for potential associated factors with the different practices. Prelacteal feeding practices were also addressed.
Results
Breastfeeding was practiced by 99% of the mothers. Dietary recall since birth showed that 7% and 0% practiced exclusive breastfeeding by 3 and 6 months, respectively, while 30% and 3% practiced predominant breastfeeding and had not started complementary feeding at the same points in time. The difference between the 24-hour recall and the recall since birth for the introduction of complementary feeds was 46 percentage points at two months and 59 percentage points at four months. Prelacteal feeding was given to 57% of the children. High education and formal marriage were protective factors against prelacteal feeding (adjusted OR 0.5, 0.2 – 1.0 and 0.5, 0.3 – 0.8, respectively).
Conclusion
Even if breastfeeding is practiced at a very high rate, the use of prelacteal feeding and early introduction of other food items is the norm. The 24-hour recall gives a higher estimate of exclusive breastfeeding and predominant breastfeeding than the recall since birth. The 24-hour recall also detected improper infant feeding practices especially in the second half year of life. The dietary recall since birth might be a feasible alternative to monitor infant feeding practices in resource-poor settings. Our study reemphasizes the need for improving infant feeding practices in Eastern Uganda.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-7-10
PMCID: PMC1828054  PMID: 17331251
7.  Risk factors in hospital deaths in severely malnourished children in Kampala, Uganda 
BMC Pediatrics  2006;6:7.
Background
Although the risk factors for increased fatality among severely malnourished children have been reported, recent information from Africa, during a period of HIV pandemic and constrained health services, remains sketchy. The aim of this study has been to establish the risk factors for excess deaths among hospitalized severely malnourished children of below five years of age.
Method
In 2003, two hundred and twenty consecutively admitted, severely malnourished children were followed in the paediatric wards of Mulago, Uganda's national referral and teaching hospital. The children's baseline health conditions were established by physical examination, along with haematological, biochemical, microbiological and immunological indices.
Results
Of the 220 children, 52 (24%) died, with over 70% of the deaths occurring in the first week of admission. There was no significant difference by sex or age group. The presence of oedema increased the adjusted odds-ratio, but did not reach significance (OR = 2.0; 95% CI = 0.8 – 4.7), similarly for a positive HIV status (OR = 2.6, 95% CI = 0.8 – 8.6). Twenty four out of 52 children who received blood transfusion died (OR = 5.0, 95% CI = 2 – 12); while, 26 out of 62 children who received intravenous infusion died (OR = 4.8, 95% CI = 2 – 12). The outcome of children who received blood or intravenous fluids was less favourable than of children who did not receive them. Adjustment for severity of disease did not change this.
Conclusion
The main risk factors for excess hospital deaths among severely malnourished children in Mulago hospital include blood transfusion and intravenous infusion. An intervention to reduce deaths needs to focus on guideline compliance with respect to blood transfusions/infusions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-6-7
PMCID: PMC1472687  PMID: 16542415

Results 1-7 (7)