Complementary Feeding Practices and Nutrition Status Among Children Aged 6-23 Months in Machakos County, Kenya
Kienji, Kigo Julius
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From six months of life onwards, when breast milk alone is no longer sufficient to meet all nutritional requirements, human children enter a vulnerable period of complementary feeding during which the incidences of infections and under nutrition rises sharply in most countries. Children in households in semi-arid areas such as Yatta Sub-County in Machakos County are particularly vulnerable to under nutrition. Timely initiation of complementary feeding practices, minimum meal frequency, minimum dietary diversity and minimum acceptable diet are among the core indicators of complementary feeding practices. The purpose of this study was to determine complementary feeding practices and nutrition status of children in Yatta Sub-County of Machakos County, Kenya. A cross-sectional analytical study was conducted on a random sample of 377 caregiver-child pairs drawn from one of the five wards. Data collection tools included: a researcher-administered structured questionnaire, anthropometry, key informant interview (KIIs) schedules for nutritionists and community health volunteers (CHV) and focus group discussion guides (FGDs) for caregivers. Quantitative data was analyzed using SPSS version 20.0.Children’s anthropometric data was entered and analyzed in ENA for SMART and interpreted based on the WHO 2006 growth standards. P-values of <0.05 were considered significant. Pearson correlation coefficient was used to establish relationships between continuous variables. Chi-square tests were performed to establish the relationships among the demographic and socio-economic characteristics, complementary feeding practices and nutrition status of children. Qualitative data from FGDs and KIIs were tape recorded, common views captured, coded and organized into themes for generalizations to be made. The average household income was kes 3,233 per month while the mean caregiver’s age was 26 years. The caregiver’s main occupation was unpaid household work, referred to as house wife (59.9%). Overall 72.9% of children were breastfeeding while 60.5% met the minimum dietary diversity and 76.1% attained the minimum meal frequency while two fifths (39.8%) attained minimum acceptable diet. About 33.7% of the children were stunted, 6.6% wasted and 16.4% were underweight. About 33.7% were sick 2 weeks before data collection. Slightly more than a tenth of the children (13.8%) had a fever, 9.6 % had diarrhea while 8.5% suffered from upper respiratory infections. Chi-square test results did not demonstrate at P<0.05 any relationship between complementary feeding practices and nutrition status. Pearson correlation coefficient showed at P<0.05 a positive correlation (r=0.105,r=0.112) between households income and caregivers occupation with minimum acceptable diet implying that children in households with higher income and those of house wives were more likely to achieve minimum acceptable diet. Household’s demographic and socio-economic characteristics did not show any correlation with nutrition status of the children. Likewise presence of illness did not show any correlation with wasting, stunting and underweight. The findings of this study recommended that the County government of Machakos domesticate the Kenya food and nutrition security policy where value addition of vegetables and fruits will be prioritized in the County integrated development program (CIDP) in order to support manufacturing and extension services to ensure decent jobs and sustainable economic development.