Vitamin a Dietary Intake and Supplementation among Children Aged 12 to 59 Months in Gatunga Ward, Tharaka Nithi County, Kenya
Nkingo, Christine Kananu
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Vitamin A intake is one of the dietary interventions that support the achievement of nutrition priority outcomes. Inadequate Vitamin A intake leads to its deficiency which causes depressed immune response, impaired movement of iron, poor growth, night blindness and xerophthalmia major public health concerns. Vitamin A deficiency has been addressed through supplementation worldwide to children under the age of 59 months. The purpose of this study was to assess Vitamin A intake and supplementation coverage among children aged 12 to 59 months in Gatunga Ward of Tharaka-Nithi County. The study specific objectives were: to establish Vitamin A rich foods consumed by children aged 12 to 59 months, to assess the knowledge of Vitamin A among the caregivers of children aged 12 to 59 months, to determine supplementation coverage of Vitamin A among children aged 12 to 59 months and to establish factors influencing Vitamin A intake among children aged 12 to 59 months in Gatunga Ward. The target population were 370 caregivers of children aged 12 to 59 months who met the inclusion criteria. Sampling procedure included purposive, cluster, and random sampling. A cross sectional descriptive study design was used to guide this study. Semi-structured questionnaires and key informant interviews schedules were employed to collect primary data from caregivers and key informants respectively. Informed consent was obtained from respondents. Research approval, ethical clearance and research permit were granted by Kenyatta University Graduate School, Kenyatta University Ethical Review Committee and National Council of Science, Technology and Innovation respectively. Quantitative data was analysed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences Version 20 while qualitative data was organized and analysed thematically. The findings revealed that only 41.8% consumed more than five food groups and indicator of a children likelihood of suffering from Vitamin A deficiency due to limited dietary diversity. It also emerged that only 36 (9%) of the respondents could mention at least one type of foods rich in Vitamin A while only (23.5%) could mention at least one benefit of Vitamin A, an indicator of knowledge on Vitamin A-rich foods and their benefits was scanty. The supplementation coverage of children aged between 12 to 59 months stood at 35.6%. Chi-square test of independence at significance level of 0.05 results showed that the main determinants of Vitamin A intake were level of education (X² = 10.880, df = 2, P<0.004), age of the caregiver (X² = 12.055, df= 2, P<0.002), marital status (X² = 18.928, df=2, P<0.001and income level (X² = 5.158, df=1, P<0.023). The study recommends that the government and stakeholders need to develop a policy of ensuring caregivers are adequately educated on Vitamin A-rich foods and their benefits. Interventions such as forming self-help groups which will provide platforms of starting of income generating activities such as investing in production of green vegetables, fruits and chicken to diversify on Vitamin A rich Vitamin A-rich foods. Vitamin A supplementation campaigns should also be intensified to ensure adequate coverage.