Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 688–697 | Cite as

Intimate Partner Violence and Breastfeeding in Africa

  • Emily S. Misch
  • Kathryn M. YountEmail author


We examined the associations of maternal intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization with early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding in eight African countries. For mothers 15–49 years with an infant aged less than 6 months from national Demographic and Health Surveys since 2007 for Ghana (n = 173), Kenya (n = 449), Liberia (n = 313), Malawi (n = 397), Nigeria (n = 2007), Tanzania (n = 549), Zambia (n = 454), and Zimbabwe (n = 480), logistic regression was used to estimate the unadjusted and adjusted associations of lifetime maternal emotional, physical, and sexual IPV victimization with early initiation (less than 1 hour of birth) and exclusive breastfeeding in the prior 24 hours. Maternal lifetime IPV victimization often was adversely associated with optimal breastfeeding practices. Physical IPV in Zimbabwe (aOR 0.40, p = 0.002), sexual IPV in Zambia (aOR 0.42, p = 0.017), and emotional IPV in Kenya (aOR 0.54, p = 0.050) and Tanzania (aOR 0.57, p = 0.088) were associated with lower adjusted odds of early initiation. Sexual IPV in Liberia (aOR 0.09, p = 0.026), Ghana (aOR 0.17, p = 0.033), and Kenya (aOR 0.34, p = 0.085) were associated with lower adjusted odds of exclusive breastfeeding. Atypically, physical IPV in Tanzania (aOR 2.11, p = 0.042) and sexual IPV in Zambia (aOR 2.49, p = 0.025) were associated with higher adjusted odds of early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding, respectively. Across several settings, maternal IPV victimization may adversely influence breastfeeding practices. Longitudinal research of these relationships is warranted. Screening for IPV victimization and breastfeeding counseling in prenatal and postpartum care may mitigate the potential intergenerational effects of IPV.


Breastfeeding Demographic and Health Surveys Intimate partner violence Sub-Saharan Africa 



This paper is based on the thesis that EM completed under the direction of KY while EM was a Masters of Public Health student in the Hubert Department of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University. The authors gratefully acknowledge Ms. Trenise Stirrup for her assistance with the preparation of this paper and Dr. Sarah Zureick-Brown for her assistance to EM with the STATA programming. Any remaining errors are the responsibilities of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hubert Department of Global Health, Rollins School of Public HealthEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Asa Griggs Candler Chair of Global Health, Hubert Department of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health and Department of SociologyEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA

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