Factors Affecting Exclusive Breastfeeding among Women in Muheza District Tanga Northeastern Tanzania: A Mixed Method Community Based Study

Aubrey R. Maonga, Michael J. Mahande, Damian J. Damian, Sia E. Msuya
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Estimates shows exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) has the potential to prevent 11.6 % of all under-five deaths in developing countries. Prevalence of EBF is low globally (35 %), and in sub Saharan Africa ranges between 22 and 33 %. Like other developing countries the prevalence of EBF is 50 % in Tanzania. There is limited information in Tanzania on factors influencing EBF apart from information specific for HIV positive women. This study aimed at examining factors that affect EBF practice among women in Muheza district, Tanga region, northeastern Tanzania.


A community based cross-sectional study using both qualitative and quantitative methods was conducted from April to June 2014. To collect relevant information, a total of 316 women with infants aged 6–12 months were interviewed using a questionnaire and 12 key informants using in-depth interview guide. Qualitative data was analyzed using thematic analysis while bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analysis were used assess association between EBF and predictor variables.


The prevalence of EBF was 24.1 %. The perception that mothers’ breast milk is insufficient for child’s growth, child being thirsty and the need to introduce herbal medicine for cultural purposes were among the important factors for early mixed feeding. In multivariate analysis advanced maternal age (OR 2.6; 95 % CI 1.18–5.59) and knowledge on EBF duration and advantages (OR 2.2; 95 % CI 1.2–3.8) remained significantly associated with EBF practice.


The prevalence of EBF in our study is low compared with the national prevalence. Strategies to target beliefs that breast milk is insufficient for growth need to be strengthened in the community. Furthermore opportunity to increase EBF training during ante and postnatal visits for women should be enhanced as more than 90 % of women in the district use skilled attendants during pregnancy and delivery.