12.4 Feeding babies and children born from women who are HIV-positive
Appropriate feeding practices are essential for optimal growth, development and the survival of infants and children. Breastfeeding plays a key role in optimally supplying all the nutrients and energy needs of infants in the first six months of life. Between six and twelve, breastmilk contributes to 50% of the infant’s energy requirement and remains an important source of vitamins and minerals. On the other hand for up to 40% of babies with HIV, the infection came from postnatal transmission of HIV through breastfeeding. However in resource constrained countries, replacement feeding actually causes equal or more infant deaths due to malnutrition and infection when compared to the number of deaths due to HIV as a result of postnatal transmission through breastfeeding.
Understanding the relationship of breastfeeding and child survival is a key to successful counselling of HIV positive mothers on how to optimally feed their babies. This section addresses important issues with regard to infant feeding in the context of HIV in Ethiopia. The IMNCI Module also looks at how to assess and support children living with HIV/AIDS.