Breast feeding practices among mothers of children with oro-facial cleft in an African cohort.
Background The challenge of breastfeeding in infants with cleft lip is achieving a seal around the nipple, but this can still be achieved with some effort, a cleft of the palate on the other hand makes it difficult to achieve the required intra oral negative pressure to suck, making feeding more challenging in this population which may result in inadequate nutrient intake (Chen et al. 1990; Ize-Iyamu and Saheeb 2011; Miller 2011).There is limited literature from our environmentabout breastfeeding practices among mothers of babies with oro-facial cleft. Objective:The study was carried out toassess the breastfeeding practices among mothers of children born with oro-facial cleft. Methodology: This was a cross sectional descriptive study using an interviewer administered questionnaire. Sample population was all mothers of babies aged between 1 and 18 months with non -syndromic oro-facial cleft attending the cleft clinic of the department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-araba, Lagos. Result: A total of 65 mothers participated in the study. Initiation of breastfeeding was reported by majority (83%, n=54) of the mothers, however, only 18.5%(n=10) of this proportion continued exclusive breastfeeding. Inability of the babies to suck was reported by 46% (n=30) of the mothers as being the most important challenge in breast feeding. There was a significant correlation between type of cleft and challenge in breastfeeding (fishers exact P = 0.001). Sixty three percent (n= 41) of the mothers reported they received no counselling on overcoming challenges associated with feeding their babies with a cleft at the facility where they delivered. Sixty nine percent (n=45) reported they first received nutritional information from the cleft clinic at presentation. The most commonly adopted substitute for breastfeeding was the use of regular feeding bottles (n=24, 43.6%). Conclusion:Rate of initiation of breastfeeding for children with oro-facial cleft in this African cohort is higher than reported in other populations despite the low level of nutritional counselling of the mothers after delivery.