Exclusive breastfeeding for at least 6 months is recommended for child health and development, but the lack of a supportive environment in workplaces can limit the ability of mothers to achieve this goal. However, even in low-income countries, the recognition of breastfeeding benefits is leading to structural reforms in workplaces to facilitate breastfeeding. Yet the impact of new laws to achieve breastfeeding goals is not known. Work conducted by Ickes and colleagues to determine if the laws are facilitating breastfeeding is reported in the December 2022 issue of The Journal of Nutrition.
Mothers (n = 564) employed in the agriculture sector in Kenya were the subjects of this study. Cross-sectional surveys were used to assess breastfeeding among mothers at 1-4 days, and at 6, 14, and 36 weeks after birth. Regression models adjusted for maternal age, education, physical burden of work, HIV status, and income were used to determine the association between workplace supports and breastfeeding.
Those mothers using onsite daycare were more likely to breastfeed (95.7% at 6 weeks, and 60.6% at 14 weeks) than those mothers using offsite childcare (82.4% at 6 weeks and 22.2% at 14 weeks). Mothers that visited daycare centers at or near the workplace were more likely to breastfeed at 14 weeks (70.0%) than those that did not visit the centers (34.7%). The provision of private lactation spaces at work led to greater (84.6%) breastfeeding than is found for those without those spaces (55.6%). The authors concluded that the provision of workplace breastfeeding supports led to greater exclusive breastfeeding practices.
In an editorial, Kamau and colleagues provide a perspective on Kenya’s Health Act and subsequent Breastfeeding Mothers Bill and detail the objectives of those policy acts. An abbreviated review of prior work to determine the impact of Kenyan workplace practices on breastfeeding is also provided. They conclude their article by supporting the goals of Kenya’s laws, and suggest Kenya would be a good place to continue work in this area in order to gather further information that supports implementation of policies that promote breastfeeding worldwide.
Ickes SB, Adams JN, Sanders HK, Kinyua J, Lemein HS, Denno DM, et al. Access to workplace supports is positively associated with exclusive breastfeeding among formally employed mothers in Kenya. Journal of Nutrition, Volume 152, Issue 12, December 2022, Pages 2888-2897. https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxac160.
Kamau E, Ngethe H, Sellen D. Breastfeeding at the workplace in Kenya. Journal of Nutrition, Volume 152, Issue 12, December 2022, Pages 2638-2639. https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxac226.
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