The World Health Organizations recommends that mothers perform exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) for the first six months of their child’s life. However, although we are learning more about the benefits of EBF, it is on the decline in many countries for a variety of reasons. In India, what was once a deep-rooted cultural practice is now done by less than 50% of mothers for the first three months of their child’s life.
In a session focusing on maternal and child health at the mHealth Summit, Dr. Leena Dhande from the Lata Medical Research Foundation, discussed a randomized control trial where one group of mothers received counseling at a facility while another group received counseling one their mobile phone.
Not only did mothers prefer the mobile phone counseling method, but also they were significantly more likely to do EBF for six months. Approximately 96% of mothers in the mobile phone group performed EBF for six months compared to only 67% of mothers in the control group.
Dr. Dhande indicated that up to 13% of under 5 deaths could be prevented if 100% of mothers performed EBF and it appears that mobile phones can play a major role in increasing adherence.