Determinants of Infant Feeding Practices : A Preliminary Ethnographic Study in Rural Nigeria
This thesis examines qualitative data on cropping systems (crop production, processing, and marketing), intra-household dynamics (gender labor allocation and decision making), and infant feeding behaviors (perceptions of infant nutrition and health, and infant feeding practices). This report is based on a three-month ethnographic assessment of 54 households and 18 key informants. It is the preliminary phase of a seven-month, semi-longitudinal, quantitative project investigating relationships between cropping patterns, household time allocation, and infant nutrition. This preliminary ethnography was undertaken by the author and two field assistants, from February to April 1987, in rural Oyo and Kwara, Nigeria. Infant mortality is high in Nigeria. In 1984, the Federal Ministry of Health estimated that out of every 1,000 births, 120 died in infancy, before the age of one. According to the United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF), of the 4.7 million children born in Nigeria yearly, no fewer than 500,000 will die before they are one year old, while 900, 000 will not reach 5 years of age. The direct causes of child death, according to UNICEF records, include whooping cough (pertussis), nee-nataltetanus, polio, tuberculosis, and diptheria, collectively responsible for at least 108,000 deaths every year. Malnutrition is a major contributing factor, as either the cause of health problems or as the result. "Changes in food habits," making "industrial baby foods a status symbol even among disadvantaged women …has aggravated the state of malnutrition of the Nigerian child …". The Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health estimates that at least 120,000 children under five years die from improper or insufficient diet.