The Importance of Correct Breastfeeding Practices: Contribution by CTARA, IITB

Despite significant reductions over the years, India still has high rates of undernutrition among children under five years of age. Large scale studies like NFHS 4 found that the prevalence of wasting was highest between birth and two months of age. This indicates that even with exclusive breastfeeding, there is poor transfer of breastmilk to the infant. This also highlights the importance of interventions that improve the effectiveness of breastfeeding practices and avert growth faltering and aid catch-up growth in first 6 months of life.1

At CTARA, IIT-B, we not only advocate for the adherence of recommended feeding practices such as early initiation of breastfeeding but also recognize the importance of teaching correct breastfeeding techniques.2 ‘Effective breastfeeding’ practices is hence an important area of interest for our faculty and scholars. For instance, Dr. Rupal Dalal, Associate Professor (Adjunct), IIT-Bombay leads the Health Spoken Tutorials (HST) project which has released several video tutorials on related topics such as cross cradle breastfeeding hold, latching, etc. Few studies have also recently assessed the impact of the Health Spoken Tutorials methodology.3-4 A recent experimental study observed that education on effective breastfeeding practices (included Health Spoken Tutorials)  given to mothers during the ANC and PNC period had significant impact in reducing as well as preventing undernutrition at 3 months.3

During the pandemic, CTARA, IIT-Bombay also played an active role in nutritional advocacy. Anticipating vulnerability of malnourished young children to Covid-19, preventive steps were suggested by CTARA, IIT-B at the start of pandemic which included recommendation of promotion of colostrum feeding as the first immunity provider and effective exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months of age as an immunity booster.5 The Health Spoken Tutorials (HST) project also released videos on practicing breastfeeding during Covid-19 which have been widely circulated. Given that the continuity of nutrition services during the pandemic was constrained, the importance of community interventions that utilize innovative technologies and tools has been generally recognized. In this context, the use of Health Spoken Tutorials methodology becomes even more relevant.

CTARA IIT-Bombay,  is committed to the goal of alleviating undernutrition in the country . Our scholars and faculty do not only present critical evidence on factors that impact adherence of recommended IYCF practices but also develop solutions to improve and correct practices.2,6-8 The aim is to provide evidence-based solutions. The World Breastfeeding Week held between August 1-7 is an opportunity to engage with practitioners and academicians to spread awareness about the importance of breastmilk and correct breastfeeding practices. Hence as an academic unit, we take the opportunity to present our recent research in this area. Do write to us at:

Click to read our faculty’s work in the area of breastfeeding:

  1. Dalal, R., Iyer, S., Abraham, M., & Yaddanapudi, L. (2020). Supporting healthy growth in infants in low-resource settings in Mumbai, India. ENN. Field Exchange 63.
  1. Dalal, R. (2022). Stop Not Till The Goal Is Reached. Indian Pediatrics, 59(1), 11-12.
  1. Fancy, D., Dalal,R., Abraham, M.,  Nambiar, A., Reddy, T., Ukey, M., &  Agnihotri,S.B  (2022).  Impact of Health Spoken Tutorials, IIT-B on Effective Breastfeeding Practices on Prevention & Treatment of Undernutrition at 3 Months: Preliminary Findings of a Case-Control Study from Dept of Health, Govt of Banaskantha, Gujarat, India . [Conference]. Geneva Health Forum, Geneva, Switzerland.
  1. Ganguly, S., Tony, B., Kumar, A., Dalal, R., Shah, N. G., & Moudgalya, K. (2018, December). Spoken Tutorials in Health Sector. In 2018 IEEE Tenth International Conference on Technology for Education (T4E) (pp. 102-105). IEEE.
  1. Choudhury, D. R, Dalal, R., & Agnihotri, S. (2020). Anticipating Vulnerability of Malnourished Young Children to Covid-19 and Taking Corrective Steps. Policy Brief No. 5. Nutrition Discussion Group IIT-B.
  1. Athavale, P., Hoeft, K., Dalal, R. M., Bondre, A. P., Mukherjee, P., & Sokal-Gutierrez, K. (2020). A qualitative assessment of barriers and facilitators to implementing recommended infant nutrition practices in Mumbai, India. Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition, 39(1), 1-12.
  1. Dalwai, S., Choudhury, P., Bavdekar, S. B., Dalal, R., Kapil, U., Dubey, A. P., … & Sachdev, H. P. S. (2013). Consensus Statement of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics on integrated management of severe acute malnutrition. Indian pediatrics, 50(4), 399-404.
  1. Shah, M. P., Kamble, P. A., & Agnihotri, S. B. (2016, December). Tackling child malnutrition: An innovative approach for training health workers using ICT a pilot study. In 2016 IEEE Region 10 Humanitarian Technology Conference (R10-HTC) (pp. 1-6). IEEE.

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