ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202209.0234.v1
Subject: Biology And Life Sciences, Food Science And Technology Keywords: early initiation of breastfeeding; exclusive breastfeeding; anemia; nutritional status; infants under six months; Syrian refugees; Lebanon
Online: 16 September 2022 (02:01:22 CEST)
The objective is to describe infant feeding practices and the nutritional status of infants under six months among Syrian refugees in Greater Beirut, Lebanon. A cross-sectional study was conducted among Syrian refugee mothers with children under five years (July-October 2018), mothers with infants under six months were included in the analysis (n=114). Additionally, eleven focus groups discussions were conducted to explore supportive factors and barriers associated with early breastfeeding practices. The prevalence of pre-lacteal feeding was high (62.5%), whereas early initiation of breastfeeding (EIBF) was low (31%), and exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) very low (24.6%). About one-fifth of the infants were suffering from anemia (20.5%) and 9.6% were wasted. Supporting factors of adequate infant feeding practices comprised knowledge on maternal nutrition and EBF, in addition to receiving support from healthcare professionals and family members. Identified barriers included preterm delivery, pre-lacteal feeding, an at-risk waist circumference and moderate to severe depression among mothers, bottle feeding, early introduction of food, maternal health reasons, breastmilk substitutes’ distribution, and misinformation offered by mothers-in-law. To address sub-optimal feeding practices documented among Syrian refugees in our study, existing infant and young child feeding policies and programs need to be strengthened and revised to tackle the identified gaps.