Prelacteal feeding practices in Vietnam: challenges and associated factors. uri icon


  • Background: Despite the importance of early initiation of and exclusive breastfeeding, prelacteal feeds continue to pose a barrier to optimal breastfeeding practices in several countries, including Vietnam. This study examined the factors associated with prelacteal feeding among Vietnamese mothers.
  • Conclusions: The multiple factors contributing to the high prevalence of prelacteal feeding behaviors stress the need for early and appropriate breastfeeding interventions in Vietnam, particularly during routine healthcare contacts. Improving breastfeeding practices during the first days of an infant's life could be achieved by improving knowledge and confidence of mothers through appropriate perinatal counseling and support. Ensuring that health facilities integrate these practices into routine ante-natal care and post-delivery management is critical.
  • Methods: Data from 6068 mother-child (<6 m) dyads were obtained from a cross-sectional survey conducted in 11 provinces in Vietnam in 2011. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to examine factors associated with prelacteal feeding.
  • Results: During the first three days after birth, 73.3% of the newborns were fed prelacteals, 53.5% were fed infants formula, and 44.1% were fed water. The odds of feeding prelacteals declined with increased breastfeeding knowledge, beliefs about social norms in favor of exclusive breastfeeding, and confidence in one's own breastfeeding behaviors. Women who harbored misconceptions about breastfeeding had twice the odds of feeding any prelacteals (OR: 2.09, 95% CI: 1.74-2.50). Health care factors increasing the odds of prelacteal feeding included delivery by caesarean section (OR: 2.94, 95% CI: 2.39-3.61) or episiotomy (OR: 1.36, 95% CI: 1.17-1.58) and experiencing breastfeeding problems (OR: 1.31, 95% CI: 1.04-1.66). Health staff support during pregnancy and after birth reduced the odds of feeding formula. However, family support after delivery increased the odds of feeding water to newborns.

publication date

  • 2013
  • 2013
  • 2013