Exclusive Breastfeeding Rates and Factors Associated with Exclusive Breastfeeding Practices in Northern Tanzania: Measurement using Two Different Methodologies—24 Hours Recall and Recall Since Birth

Tamara H. Hussein, MPH,1,2 Melina Mgongo, MPH,1,3,* Jacqueline G. Uriyo, MMed,1,4 Damian J. Damian, MSc,5,6 Babill Stray-Pedersen, MD, PhD,1,3,4 Sia E. Msuya, MD, PhD,1,6,7 and Margareta Wandel, PhD2
Publication year: 


Exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) has many benefits to the child from mental to physical growth and development; however, methods of measuring EBF have raised a number of policy and programmatic questions. This study assesses EBF rates and factors associated with EBF practices in Northern Tanzania using two different methodologies, namely, the 24-hours recall and recall-since-birth.


A cohort study was conducted from October 2013 to December 2015 among mother-infants’ pairs. Mothers with child delivery information (N=430) were followed and included in the analyses. We enrolled pregnant women who were in their third trimesters and interviewed them with the help of questionnaires at enrollment, delivery, 7 days and thereafter monthly up to nine months after delivery. At each visit after delivery, information on breastfeeding using the two methods (24 hours recall and recall-since-birth) was collected.


The prevalence of EBF dropped from one month to six months when using both the 24 hours recall and the recall since birth methods, but at different rates. At six months, 24.2% of the mothers practiced EBF when measured with the recall since birth method, compared to 38.8% when measured with the 24 hour recall. Predictors of EBF were also different. When using the recall since birth method, women who had received counseling on infant feeding had increased odds of practicing EBF compared to those who did not receive counseling, [AOR=2.3; 95% CI (1.2, 3.7)]. When using 24 hours recall, women who were unemployed had increased odds of practicing EBF compared to those who were employed [AOR=1.5;95% CI(1.1,2.5)], and women aged 35 - 49 years had decreased odds of practicing EBF compared to younger women[AOR=0.28; 95 % CI(0.1,0.7)].

Conclusions and Global Health Implications:

The two methods for EBF give substantially different results, both in the prevalence of EBF and factors associated with EBF. The higher EBF obtained with 24 hours recall represents an overestimation and thereby an overly positive picture of the situation.