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Weaning practices of mothers attending United Nations Relief and Works Agency health centres in the Gaza Governorates


B.A. Abu Hamad: e-mail:


Abu Hamad B.A. & Sammour H.K. (2013) Weaning practices of mothers attending United Nations Relief and Works Agency health centres in the Gaza Governorates. Journal of Advanced Nursing69(4), 773–781. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2012.06057.x


Aim.  To report a study about weaning patterns and practices among Palestinian mothers attending health centres managed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in the Gaza Strip.

Background.  Although breastfeeding and weaning are important domains in child health, weaning has gained little attention from healthcare providers and researchers. In Arab culture, weaning practices are problematic and information gaps exist in relation to how and when weaning takes place.

Design.  A descriptive/analytical cross-sectional study.

Methods.  A multi-stage stratified random sample of 285 mothers of infants from 6–24 months, attending six health centres, was selected and completed an interviewed questionnaire in 2009. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences Program was used to conduct descriptive and analytical analysis.

Results.  The rate of exclusive breastfeeding for infants from 0–6 months of age was low. Pregnancy was reported as the main reason for weaning. The mean weaning age was 13·5 months. The vast majority of mothers used sudden weaning, from them, the majority used traditional methods. The most popular traditional methods used by mothers were putting substances with bad taste especially aloe vera (Subra Murra) on the nipples, using of alternatives as pacifiers, putting red substances, and placing coffee on the nipples. Variations were found in the use of traditional methods in reference to mothers’ demographic characteristics.

Conclusion.  During counselling mothers, nurses should focus on promoting gradual weaning practices and abstain from using traditional methods. Also, nurses should receive training and supervision on the appropriate weaning practices.

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