To determine current status, areas for improvement and effect of conflict on infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices among internally displaced persons (IDP) in eastern Ukraine.
Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhia oblasts (Ukrainian administrative divisions) bordering conflict area in Ukraine.
Randomly selected IDP households with children aged <2 years registered with local non-governmental organizations. Questions based on the WHO IYCF assessment questionnaire were asked for 477 children. Mid-upper arm circumference was measured in 411 children aged 6–23 months.
Exclusive breast-feeding prevalence for infants aged <6 months was 25·8 (95 % CI 15·8, 38·0) %. Percentage of mothers continuing breast-feeding when their child was aged 1 and 2 years was 53·5 (95 % CI 43·2, 63·6) % and 20·6 (95 % CI 11·5, 32·7) %, respectively. Bottle-feeding was common for children aged <2 years (68·1 %; 95 % CI 63·7, 72·3 %). Almost all infants aged 6–8 months received solid foods (98·6 %; 95 % CI 88·5, 99·9 %). Mothers who discontinued breast-feeding before their infant was 6 months old more often listed stress related to conflict as their primary reason for discontinuation (45·7 %) compared with mothers who discontinued breast-feeding when their child was aged 6–23 months (14·3 %; P<0·0001).
To mitigate the effects of conflict and improve child health, humanitarian action is needed focused on helping mothers cope with stress related to conflict and displacement while supporting women to adhere to recommended IYCF practices if possible and providing appropriate support to women when adherence is not feasible.