Background: Child mortality rates remain stubbornly high in many parts of India. One reason
for the high child mortality rates is related to breast feeding practices. Less than one third of the
mothers breastfeed within half an hour of birth in urban areas and only one fifth do so in the rural areas.
When mothers either delay or do not breastfeed at all, the likelihood of child mortality rate increases.
While urban - rural differences in breastfeeding practices are known to exist, very few studies have examined the
differences empirically. The objective of this study is to examine the urban-rural differences in the likelihood of breastfeeding
soon after birth in India.
Methods: We used data from the national population-based third wave of the National Family and Health Survey of India
(NHFS-3) commissioned by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, an agency of the Government of India. Conducted
in all states during 2005-2006, NHFS-3 is the most recent survey available of the representative households in India.
Binary Logistic regression method is used to analyze the data.
Results: Results of our study do not support the popular notion that there is strong cultural resistance against starting
breast-feeding soon after childbirth. We discuss several opportunities for social workers to promote healthy breast-feeding
practices in India.
Conclusion: Our study suggests that rural -urban differences in terms of healthy breast feeding practices are not intrackable
and that the rural and cultural beliefs systems with regard to breast feeding practices are likely to support healthy