Caregiver feeding practices and socio-economic factors that influence the nutritional status of children under-five years in Mlolongo, Kenya.
Ndambuki, Seth K.
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The co-existence of under nutrition and over nutrition in the same country (double burden) is a global public health challenge that is becoming a problem in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, little information is available on this trend in Kenya and more so in the urban poor. The purpose of the study was to assess the nutritional status of children under-five years of age living in Mlolongo informal settlement and the caregiver feeding practices and Socio-economic factors that influence this nutritional status. A sample of 165 households with caregiver-child pairs were selected for the study. Data was collected using semi-structured interviews, observation check list, Focus group discussions and anthropometric measurements. Data analysis was carried out using WHO anthro version 2 and SPSS version 19. Research findings revealed 33.5% of the children were stunted, 11.4% were wasted and 13.3% were underweight. Severe stunting was found in 16.8% of the children, 3.2% were severely wasted and 2.4% were severely underweight. Overweight was found in 11.4% of the children and the obese were 5.1%. Boys were more undernourished than girls, and girls were more over nourished than boys. Children aged 12-23 months had the highest prevalence of stunting (60%) and wasting (17.9%) and children aged 0-5 months had the highest prevalence of underweight (24.4%) and overweight (23.1%). The demographic factors found to be significant predictors (P<0.05) of child nutritional status were caregiver‟s age (<24 years) and the number of siblings to the surveyed child. Socio-economic factors found to be significantly associated with child nutritional status were caregiver‟s level of education and income. Initiation to breastfeeding and caregiver-child interactions during child feeding was significantly associated with child nutritional status. Sanitation practices such as dumping of refuse coupled with presence of excreta/effluent within the compound was a significant predictor of child wasting. Also diarrhea within the last two weeks preceding the survey was significantly associated with wasting. The study reveals that chronic malnutrition is pronounced in the area and the most undernourished group (12-23 months olds) falls in the 1000-day window and if not addressed may increase the child‟s risk of developing chronic illnesses later in life. The high prevalence of overweight children implies that even the urban poor are undergoing nutrition transition. The findings of the study imply a “double burden” of malnutrition in children under five years with under nutrition more pronounced in the area. This state could be linked to socio-economic factors, caregiver feeding practices, child morbidity and sanitation practices.