Influence of Food Taboos and Beliefs on Anaemia among Pregnant Women in Isiolo County, Kenya
Agustino, Sora Gonjobo
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Over ages, different cultures all over the world has imposed certain rules and regulations regarding food consumptions a phenomenon that has significant impact on individuals health. For instance, a pregnant mother requires significant additional calorie and nutrients requirements. This particular group together with the breastfeeding mothers requires a balanced diet to supplement them with necessary nutrients and to avoid nutritional stress. Unbalanced diet and insufficient nutrients to this group particularly in remote areas has significant disadvantageous impacts on expectancy and birth results. The communities that live in Isiolo County are so fond of preserving their culture, beliefs and traditions. A part of these cultures dictates on food consumption. They are rules and regulations that dictates on do’s and don’ts as far as food is concerned. These beliefs have ignorantly posed adverse risk to particularly pregnant mothers and the child. The main objective of this study is to evaluate some of the food prohibitions and beliefs during pregnancy and their impact on anaemia for expectant mothers living in Isiolo County. The research employed an illustrative sampling research design. Isiolo County is subdivided into three sub-counties; that are Isiolo, Garbatulla and Merti. Therefore three clusters of the study population were created based on these particular sub-counties where cases of anaemia among maternal mothers has been reported to be very nationally. Reports from Kenya Demographic Health Survey of 2014 indicate that 4% of the population in Isiolo County is made up of expectant mothers. Numerically this number stands to be approximately 5733, which is used as study population in this research. From this population, a sample of 374 participants was drawn which was distributed among the three sub-counties. Both qualitative and quantitative data was gathered by trained research assistants SPSS version 23 statistical research was employed to analyze this particular information. Data presentation was in form of illustrative statistics. To determine the association between variables, correlation coefficients were employed. The qualitative data that was collected by focus group was analyzed by help of content analysis technique. The results that were obtained from this research established that there are high cases of anaemia in Isiolo County (68%). Various factors contributed to this scenario of high cases but the main causes was established to be ignorance among the community living in this region on this particular topic (r=0.68, f=56.56, p=0.00). The foods that were prohibited were mostly animal products that included; Fish, organ meat, chicken meat and chicken eggs. There was a positive relationship between food taboos and beliefs with prevalence of anaemia in pregnancy. We recommend the ministry of health and other stakeholders to formulate strategies that focus on lowering the anaemia prevalence in pregnancy, increasing pregnant women’s nutritional knowledge and demystifying the misconceptions about the food taboos.