Fathers as supporters for improved exclusive breastfeeding in Viet Nam.
To determine the extent of exclusive breastfeeding practices among mothers of 4 and 6 month old infants whose fathers received breastfeeding education materials and counseling services. A quasi-experimental design was used. At the baseline, 251 and 241 couples were recruited into the intervention and control sites respectively. Fathers in the intervention area received breastfeeding education materials, counseling services at commune health centers and household visits. In the control site, where mothers routinely receive services on antenatal and postpartum care, fathers did not receive any intervention services on promoting breastfeeding. Primary indicators were exclusive breastfeeding at 4 and 6 months. At 6 months of age, based on 24-hour recall, 16.0% (38/238) of mothers in the intervention group were exclusively breastfeeding their children, compared to 3.9% (10/230) of those mothers in the control group (p < 0.001). Significant differences were found based on last-week recall (8.8% in the intervention group vs. 1.3% in the control group, p < 0.001) and since-birth recall (6.7% in the intervention group vs. 0.9% in the control group, p < 0.01). At 4 months of age, based on since birth recall, the breastfeeding proportion was significantly higher in the intervention group than in control group (20.6% in the intervention group vs. 11.3% in the control group, p < 0.01). An intervention targeting fathers might be effective in increasing exclusive breastfeeding practices at 4 and 6 months. To improve exclusive breastfeeding, health care staff working in maternal and child health units, should consider integrating fathers with services delivered to mothers and children.