A comparative study on dietary practices, morbidity patterns and nutrition status of HIV/AIDS infected and non-infected pre-school children in Kibera slum, Kenya
Kuria, E. N.
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Objectives: The impact of HIV and associated opportunistic infections compounded by inappropriate dietary practices among children leads to under nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies associated with high morbidity and mortality rates. This study determined the dietary practices, morbidity patterns and nutrition status of HIV/AIDS infected and non-infected pre-school children in Kibera slums. Methodology and results: A comparative descriptive design was used to conduct a study in May 2005 among 64 HIV/AIDS infected and 64 non-infected pre-school children in Kibera slum. Data was obtained a researcher administered questionnaire and focus group discussion guides. Results indicated that the average number of meals consumed per day was 3.4. The consumption of cereals, vegetables, fruits and animal products were irregular. Except for fat, intake of macronutrients and micronutrients were inadequate. The main illnesses were malaria, cold, cough and pneumonia which manifested as fever, diarrhea, vomiting and loss of appetite. A total of 44, 33 and 52% of the infected children were stunted, wasted and underweight as compared to 22, 21 and 17%, respectively, for the non-infected group. The education level of the caregiver, amount of kilocalories taken, and number of meals taken per day, household size and morbidity patterns of the children significantly affected the nutrition status. The children’s poor nutrition status was due to poor dietary practices. This was compounded by the effect of the manifestations of various infections like diarrhea, vomiting, fever and loss of appetite which deteriorated the nutrition status. There was no significant difference between the number of meals per day (p = 0.061), amount of kilocalories taken per day (p = 0.093) for the two groups. However, there was a significance difference in the number of sick (p = 0.048), wasted (p = 0.043), stunted (p = 0.035) and underweight (p = 0.028) children for the two groups. The significant difference in morbidity patterns and nutrition status was due to opportunistic infections which increases nutrient needs. The infected children were frequently ill with the manifestations of the infections lasting longer. Conclusions and application of the findings: The study recommends the use of nutrient dense products to provide more nutrients as needed, educating caregivers on nutritional management of HIV patients and initiating income generating activities to improve food security in the study areas.