Food consumption patterns, nutrient intakes, Nutritional status and school attendance among Children from hiv/aids affected households in Kiambu municipality
Gitika, Alice W.
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HIV/AIDS has orphaned millions of children worldwide and left many more with ill parents. Sub Saharan Africa is the worst hit. Kenya has an estimated one million orphaned and vulnerable children due to HIV/AIDS. Apart from illness and death of parents, children may be more vulnerable to poverty, face increased risk of malnutrition and miss out on education. The objective of this study was to assess food consumption patterns, nutrient intakes, nutritional status and school attendance among children from HIV/AIDS affected households in Kiambu Municipality. A cross sectional analytical design was used to study 157 children aged 5-15 years. Households with study subjects were purposively selected with the help of CHWs. Research instruments included a structured questionnaire, 24-hour dietary recall, seven-day food frequency, anthropometry, an observation checklist, Focus Group Discussion guide and in-depth interview guides. The 24-hour dietary recall data were analysed using Nutri survey software. The Statistical Package of Social Scientists version 17 was used to analyse descriptive and inferential data. Anthropometry data were used to determine children’s nutritional status. World Health Organisation growth standards and Z-score cut off points were used to establish malnutrition in children. Relationships were determined by Regression and Chi-square tests, (p<0.05). About 53.5% children were girls while 46.5% were boys. About 29.5% children were maternal orphans, 21.1% paternal orphans, 17.5% double orphans and 31.9% children lived with HIV positive parents. Parents’/guardians’ ages ranged from 17 to 81 years. About 41.4% households were headed by grandparents (mostly grandmothers), 40.8% by mothers and 12.1% by fathers. Only about 18.5% parents/guardians had post primary education. Sources of income included casual labour (51.6%), subsistence farming (28.7%), self employment (11.5%) and formal employment (4.5%). Most dependants were children (71.8%) while the rest were adults. Only 22.9% households got external support. Food consumed in these households was bought (71%) and food from the farms constituted (29%). Children’s meals lacked important foods like animal proteins and fruits, and were inadequate in macronutrients and micronutrients. Children missed some meals, with a large number consuming less than three meals a day. About 7.5% of the children were wasted, 11.3% underweight and 24% stunted. Older children were more wasted, underweight and stunted (p=0.01, p<0.001 and p<0.001 respectively) than younger ones. Children with more siblings were more wasted (OR=1.9, 95% CI:1.0-3.5, p=0.037) while those inhouseholds with more dependants were more underweight (OR=2.7, 95% CI:1.4 – 5.2, p=0.003). About 25% children had suffered respiratory infections, skin conditions, malaria and ear infections one month before the interview. One out of ten children had chronic illnesses which included HIV/AIDS. School enrolment was high mainly due to Free Primary Education, but about 18% of the children missed school. The study exposed poor economic status, poor food consumption patterns and poor nutritional status of the children. The study recommends designing and employing strategies for improving household income and nutrition education for poor populations affected by HIV/AIDS for better nutrition of the children.