Background:Inadequate breastfeeding practices contribute to malnutrition in young children. Aims and objectives:This study examined changes in breastfeeding practices and the nutritional status of children (0–35 months, n = 37154) using data from the nationally-representative Nigerian Demographic and Health Surveys for 1990–2008. Methods:The study estimated the relative changes in the proportion of children meeting recommended breastfeeding practices and the anthropometric indices of the children during the study period, by region, place of residence, maternal education and maternal occupation. Results:In each study year, over 97% of the children were ever breastfed. The proportion of infants breastfed within 1 hour and 1 day of birth increased from 34% to 45.8%, and from 63.8% to 82.3%, respectively. Overall, breastfeeding for ≥ 12 months changed from 88.9% to 95.2%, an increase of 7%; however, an increase of 14% was observed in the northern region (from 86.1% to 97.8%) while a decline of 7% was observed in the southern region (from 97.1% to 89.9%). Over the study period, the prevalence of all the assessed indicators of malnutrition (stunting, wasting and underweight) increased in the northern region while the southern region experienced a decline in all except severe wasting. In both urban and rural areas, stunting and wasting increased, while underweight declined. Children of non-formally educated and unemployed mothers were more malnourished in all the study years. Conclusion:Improvement in some breastfeeding practices did not result in improvement in the nutritional status of Nigerian children during 1990–2008, particularly in northern Nigeria and among socially disadvantaged mothers. Improving maternal education and employment, and integrating messages on techniques and benefits of optimal infant feeding with other maternal and child healthcare services could be beneficial.
- Demographic and health surveys
- Nutritional status
- Young children