Progress and inequalities in infant and young child feeding practices in India between 2006 and 2016. uri icon

abstract

  • Limited evidence exists on socio-economic status (SES) inequalities in infant and young child feeding (IYCF) in India. We examine trends and changes in inequalities for IYCF practices over 2006-2016 and identify factors that may explain differences in IYCF across SES groups. We use data from the 2015-2016 and 2005-2006 National Family Health Surveys (n = 112,133 children < 24 months). We constructed SES quintiles (Q) and assessed inequalities using concentration and slope indices. We applied path analyses to examine the relationship between SES inequalities, intermediate determinants, and IYCF. Breastfeeding improved significantly over 2006-2016: from 23% to 42% for early initiation of breastfeeding (EIBF) and 46% to 55% for exclusive breastfeeding (EBF). Minimum dietary diversity (MDD) improved modestly (15% to 21%), but adequate diet did not change (similar to 9%). Large SES gaps (Q5-Q1) were found for EIBF (8-17%) and EBF (-15% to -10%) in 2006; these gaps closed in 2016. The most inequitable practices in 2006 were MDD and iron-rich foods (Q5 similar to 2-4 times higher than Q1); these gaps narrowed in 2016, but levels are low across SES groups. Factors along the path from SES inequalities to IYCF practices included health and nutrition services, information access, maternal education, number of children < 5 years, and urban/rural residence. The improvements in breastfeeding and narrowing of equity gaps in IYCF practices in India are significant achievements. However, ensuring the health and well-being of India's large birth cohort will require more efforts to further improve breastfeeding, and concerted actions to address all aspects of complementary feeding across SES quintiles.

publication date

  • 2018
  • 2018