Factors Associated with the Continuation of Growth Monitoring among Children 10 to 59 Months Old in Nyamira County, Kenya
Nyabuti, Jane Ilusa
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Growth monitoring and promotion (GMP) is a preventive activity that uses growth monitoring, in measuring and interpreting growth. It facilitates communication and interaction with the caregiver to generate adequate action to promote child growth. GMP is meant for children 0 to 59 months of age, but available data indicates that for the majority it stops when immunization is completed at 9 months. Scientific data demonstrates that if growth monitoring (GM) is done appropriately, it can significantly improve the nutritional status of children. The factors influencing growth monitoring and promotion after 9 months in children have not been fully investigated. Improvement in the growth monitoring can only be successfully undertaken if the reasons why mothers do not continue after 9 months are investigated, so that appropriate actions are taken. The purpose of the study was to determine the factors influencing the continuation of growth monitoring among children 10-59 months old in Nyamira County. The study targeted mothers with children between 0 months to 59 months of age. The sample size was 409 mothers selected by simple random sampling procedure from 10 villages in two divisions of the County. The data was collected through a researcher-administered questionnaire during an interview in the respondents’ homes. Descriptive statistics (frequencies and percentages, means, and standard deviations) was used to describe the study population and the mothers’ growth monitoring practices. T-test was used to compare means for continuous variables (age of children, age of respondents) of those who continued and those who discontinued GM after immunization schedule was completed. Chi-square test was used to test for associations between categorical variables such as demographics and maternal knowledge on GM and the practice of continued GM. A p-value of <0.05 was used as the criterion for statistical significance. The study findings revealed that 80.9% of the respondents were knowledgeable about continued GM. The coverage for continued GM was 53.3% and 93.2% of the respondents had health facilities available within a 5 kilometre return journey. There were significant positive relationships between the practice of continued GM and maternal knowledge in terms of; the importance of taking children for GM regularly, importance of continued GM and understanding of the information displayed on the child health card (chi-square test; p<0.001). The findings also revealed that availability of health facilities within 5 km return journey influenced the practice of continued GM (chi-square test, p<0.001). Mothers of higher socio status and those with higher education levels were more likely to continue with GM. Similarly mothers who knew the health benefits of GM and understood information displayed on the child health card were more likely to practice continued GM. The study results will be disseminated to the community where the study was conducted to help them improve the practice of growth monitoring. Based on the findings of the study, the researcher recommends that health care professionals particularly those working in health facilities should strengthen health and nutrition education to mothers on the benefits of continued GM.