Infant feeding practices of HIV-positive mothers in India

Nishi Suryavanshi, Sasi Jonnalagadda, Ashwini S. Erande, Jayagowri Sastry, Hemalata Pisal, Kapila E. Bharucha, Aparna Shrotri, Pandurang M. Bulakh, Mrudula A. Phadke, Robert C. Bollinger, Anita V. Shankar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Exclusive breast-feeding is widely accepted and advocated in India; however, clinicians are now faced with advising women infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) about the risks and benefits of other infant feeding options. This study assessed factors that influence the infant feeding decisions of HIV-infected mothers in Pune, India. From December 2000 to April 2002, HIV-positive (HIV+) pregnant women (n = 101) from a government hospital antenatal clinic were interviewed prepartum about infant feeding intention, feeding practice immediately postpartum and feeding after a minimum of 2 wk postpartum. Of the HIV+ sample, the last 39 were interviewed more intensively to examine factors affecting feeding decision making. We found that an equal number of HIV+ women intended to breast-feed (44%) or give top milk (44%) (diluted animal milk). Women who chose to top feed were also more likely to disclose their HIV status to family members. Mixed feeding occurred frequently in our sample (29%); however, for the majority of those (74%), it lasted only 3 d postpartum. The hospital counselor had an important role in assisting women in their intended feeding choice as well as actual practice. The time immediately after delivery was noted as critical for recounseling about infant feeding and further support of the woman's decision, thus lowering the risk of mixed feeding. Lack of funds, poor hygienic conditions and risk of social repercussions were more commonly noted as reasons to breast-feed. Top milk, the alternative for breastmilk used in this population, however, must be investigated further to assess its nutritional value and safety before it can be endorsed widely for infants of HIV+ women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1326-1331
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2003


  • Breast-feeding
  • HIV
  • India
  • Infant feeding
  • Top milk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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