Feeding practices and their associations with diarrhea incidence in a cohort of rural Egyptian infants

Mohammad Moshaddeque Hossain, The University of Texas School of Public Health


A study was conducted in 4 villages in Bilbeis, Egypt, to document the infant feeding practices and identify their determinants, and examine the associations between feeding practices and diarrhea incidence in infants. A cohort of 152 infants were followed from birth with twice-weekly home visits to record feeding practices and diarrheal illness. Cross-sectional information was obtained about child birth; early neonatal feeding practices; and the socioeconomic, demographic, and water and sanitation characteristics of study families. Prelacteal fees were given to 60% of the infants. Nineteen percent of the infants were wet nursed at least once during the first week of life. Breast-feeding prevalence declined from 100% among infants aged less than 12 weeks to 84% among those aged 44-47 weeks. The prevalence of exclusive breast-feeding among breast-fed infants was 38% in those aged less than 4 weeks, increased to 54% in age period 4-7 weeks, and then declined rapidly to 4% in age period 24-27 weeks. The patterns and determinants of consumption by breast-fed infants of specific supplements were examined in detail. Between birth and age 47 weeks, the diarrhea incidence rate per person-year among breast-fed infants (6.84 episodes) was identical to the rate among all infants (6.89 episodes). In age period 0-11 weeks, the diarrhea incidence rate among breast-fed infants receiving supplements was 1.3 times (95% confidence interval: 0.9-2.0) higher than the rate among those exclusively breast-fed. In other age periods, diarrhea incidence was generally nonsignificantly higher among exclusively breast-fed infants than among those partially breast-fed and those completely weaned. Both univariate and multivariate analyses were done to examine the associations between diarrhea incidence and the consumption by breast-fed infants of specific supplements. After multivariate adjustment, supplements that showed significant, borderline, or suggestive positive associations with diarrhea incidence were cereal-water, cheese, raw vegetables, and 'other' foods. Significant, borderline, or suggestive negative associations were observed between diarrhea incidence and the intake of fresh animal milk, and potatoes. To reduce the risk of diarrhea, indiscriminate use of supplements among Bilbeis infants aged less than 12 weeks should be strongly discouraged. While mothers in this area should be educated about methods of safer preparation, handling, storage, and administration of all weaning foods, their attention should be particularly drawn to the 4 foods that were found to be positively associated with diarrhea incidence among infants in this study.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Hossain, Mohammad Moshaddeque, "Feeding practices and their associations with diarrhea incidence in a cohort of rural Egyptian infants" (1990). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9109988.