Small grants program: Improving breastfeeding practices through cell phone counseling in India

28 Oct 14
Author(s)Archana Patel, MD, PhD, DNB, MSCE
Topic(s): Breastfeeding
Location: India
Organization: India, Indira Gandhi Medical College, Professor of Pediatrics, Lata Medical Research Foundation
Programs: Interpersonal communication, Social and behavior change, Strategic use of data
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The goal of this project was to examine the effect on breastfeeding (BF) rates of providing mothers with cell phone-based breastfeeding (BF) counseling in addition to maternity hospital retraining in the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI). In this cluster randomized controlled trial, 1,037 women of low socioeconomic status were enrolled from four maternity hospitals in central India. Hospital staff was retrained in BFHI using the Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI) curriculum. Auxiliary nurse midwives were trained in sending targeted SMS (text messages) and in providing BF counseling using cell phones. Mothers in the BFHI + CP group were offered study cell phones and received daily SMS, weekly calls, and need-based counseling at no charge, starting from the mother’s third trimester of pregnancy to 6 months + 1 week postpartum (pp). Augmenting BFHI with cell phone-based BF support increased early initiation and exclusive BF rates and decreased bottle feeding rates in Indian women of low socioeconomic status attending urban maternity hospitals that received only retraining in BFHI. This intervention was successfully implemented by training auxiliary nurse midwives and can potentially be scaled up for incorporation into public as well as private health systems.

The goal of the Alive & Thrive (A&T) Grants Program (2009 to 2014) was to identify new solutions for scaling up effective and sustainable interventions to improve infant and young child feeding by linking research to program delivery. A&T awarded eight two-year grants in 2010 and four in 2011. The Grants Program was managed by the University of California, Davis.