Nutrition Knowledge, Dietary Practices and Nutrition Status of Pregnant Adolescents in Mandera County, Kenya
Mohamed, Khalif Abdirahman
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Adolescent’s pregnancy is on the increase. This consequently has led to high morbidity, mortality among the born child. Appropriate mother’s nutrition status during pregnancy is essential for both the mother and the fetus. Dietary intake among pregnant adolescents is a key factor that influences their nutrition status and the birth outcome. Nutrition knowledge of the mothers has been shown to affect the dietary practices of the children. However, nutrition knowledge among pregnant adolescents is normally ignored. More research has focused on pregnant mothers in general with a little focus on those who are adolescents. In addition, there is inadequate information on nutrition status and dietary intake among pregnant adolescents. Thus, the study aimed to assess nutrition knowledge, dietary practices and nutrition status of pregnant adolescents. A cross sectional analytical design was used, to carry out the study in Mandera East Sub-County, Mandera County which is one of the ASAL areas in Kenya. A sample size of 258 pregnant adolescents visiting the various Health Facilities in Mandera East Sub-County was selected using a systematic sampling technique from hospital records. A researcher administered questionnaire was used for collecting data. Additional data was collected using focus group discussions guides and key informants interviews. Nutri-survey software was used to analyze dietary data for amount of nutrients consumed. Data was collected, entered and analyzed using SPSS. Pearson’s correlation coefficient was used assess the relationships between non-categorical variables while chi-square was used for categorical variables. Logistical regression analysis was used to assess prediction among variables. A probability value <0.05 was taken as significant. Qualitative data was analyzed to indicate the emerging themes. Results show that the proportion of the pregnant adolescents (22.1%) were unmarried and with up to primary level education (68.4%). They were mainly casual workers or pastoralists earning an average monthly income of 6,934± 625 KES. The mean nutrition knowledge score was 46.4 ± 6.8 was low with majority (47.5%) having moderate nutrition knowledge. The mean number of meals was 2.95 ± 0.6. The mean energy intake was 1850.5 ±33. Intake of energy and other micronutrients were below the recommended daily allowance apart from fat. The mean individual dietary diversity score was 5.64 ± 2.32 food groups. Cereals and oils/fats, flesh meat and milk and milk products were the common foods consumed by most mothers. The nutrition status was poor 31.1% were underweight. About 36.1% of the mothers had been sick in the previous two weeks. The main illness were malaria and cough experienced by (33) 37.5% and (25) 28.4% of respondents, respectively. The nutrition knowledge score was shown to have a significant positive relationship with nutrition status (r=0.069; P<0.001) and morbidity status (χ2 =121 df= 6, P= <0.001). There was a significant relationship (r=0.069; P<0.033) between the dietary diversity score and the nutrition status as well as with morbidity status (r = 0.526; p= 0.005). This study concludes that the nutrition knowledge of these mothers was low and led to poor nutrition status. The poor nutrition status was associated with inadequate dietary intake and frequent illness. The poor dietary practices were as a result of by low education level as well as low nutrition knowledge level which was in combination with lack of adequate income to procure food. The low education level and low income led to poor health seeking behavior and as such led to a higher morbidly status among the pregnant adolescents.This study recommends a policy on utilisation of the training package among health workers so as to help the mothers improve their care practices.