The influence of feeding practices on the nutritional status of pre-school children: a case of Ndivisi location, Bungoma District, Western Kenya
Cheloti, Isabella Mulemia
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The purpose of the study was to find out child feeding patterns that may have had an influence on the nutritional status of pre-school children. Cluster sampling method was used to select eight villages within Ndivisi location for purposes of the study. Purposive sampling method was used to identify 100 households with children between the age of 6-60 months . Additionally anthropometric measurements of 119 children were taken. Results of the studv show that there was existence of malnutrition among children, with (18.5%) of children between the age of 13-24 months suffering from stunting and (17.6%) within the same age bracket suffering from wasting. Demographic information of the respondents showed that 34% of the households had between 4-6 members, while (32%) of the mothers had only received primary level education. Socio-economic status of the population indicates that very few household heads 22.8% had permanent employment and were thus earning a steady income. Those involved in petty businesses (27%) did not consider it to be employment. The most common illness among the sampled population, was fever with 25.4% suffering from it within the last seven days before the research was carried out. The other common ailment was diarrhea (22.1%.) Child feeding patterns showed that, 70.7% of the mothers stopped breast-feeding their children when they were between the age of 1-2 years, while the most common types of weaning foods given to pre-school children were of the carbohydrate group 41%, the most common being maize meal porridge. Further results showed that (69%) of the pre-school children were subject to taboos related to food, where 51.9% of the children were not supposed to eat meat or drink milk from the eng'enda cow. Correlations carried out on the relationship between nutritional status and the demographic characteristics of the respondents showed that there was a high positive correlation of 0.8 where the significant level p=0.5 between the educational level of the respondents and the weight for age status of pre-school children. There was also a high positive correlation of 0.9 where the significant level p=0.5 between the occupation status of the respondents and the height for age index of pre-school children. From the analysis it is evident that the poor nutritional status of pre-school children could be attributed to lack of steady incomes both by household heads and mothers, low levels of education especially by the mothers, poor weaning and feeding practices of pre-school children and the existence of food taboos. Other likely causes could have been prevalence of illnesses and poor sanitary conditions.