Barriers to Breastfeeding in South-Asia: A Systematic Literature Review

Background: Child health in South Asia is a major concern with a great number of children still malnourished. There are various reasons that lead to high occurrence of malnutrition in children and among them breast feeding practices is the most important. Breastfeeding is cost effective, promotes health, and prevents disease. Aim: The aim of this systematic review was to identify barriers to initiation and continuation of breastfeeding in South Asia covering Maldives, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Methodology: Extensive search of the major databases was conducted from 1997 to 2017. The search included published studies in English. The eligibility of researches to be included in the review was evaluated on the basis of inclusion and exclusion criteria. Twenty-one studies met the criteria and were included. This review considered any research study design that recognized the barriers to breast-feeding in South Asian countries. Results: The evidence identified from the studies included the barriers associated with initiation of breastfeeding according to five levels of thematic analysis: sociocultural, socio-economic, individual, mother’s knowledge and health-specific. Conclusions: Mothers are faced with multiple exclusive breastfeeding challenges at the societal and individual levels and community stakeholders should look into this matter to provide maximum assistance to lactating mothers to achieve the goal of improved child health. Therefore, bringing the practice of EBF in mothers needs rigorous efforts at the micro and macro levels in South Asia.


Maira NS, Salman MS and Sarmad MS

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