Nutrient composition of hypochondiacus amaranthus grain and contribution to nutritional status of HIV and AIDS infected children attending Thika District Hospital

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Maoga, W. N.
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Food and nutrition interventions are critical components of comprehensive responses to the HIV and AIDS pandemic. High nutrition quality of amaranth grain has been established but it remains an underutilized crop in Kenya despite the potential to broaden the food base which is critical in the context of HIV and AIDS. Information on the utilization of amaranth grain and its contribution to the nutrition status of vulnerable groups has not been sufficiently documented. The purpose of this study was to determine the nutrient composition of hypochondriac us amaranth us grain and assess the contribution of amaranth-based porridge consumption to nutrition status of HIV and AIDS infected children attending Thika District Hospital Comprehensive Care Clinic. The study was a longitudinal (6 months), experimental pre and post single group design, with a comprehensive sample of 52 children. The study was conducted in two phases. In phase one, data on nutrient composition and sensory evaluation of researcher-developed amaranth-based porridges were collected (6 months). Phase two included baseline assessment and the intervention. Intervention included monthly provision of adequate amaranth flour to be consumed by the children on a daily basis, nutrition education and counselling. Phase two data comprised demography, dietary intake, anthropometric, morbidity, and CD4 counts) and during and after intervention data on, anthropometry (monthly), morbidity prevalence (monthly) dietary intake (at month six) and CD4counts (at month six). Quantitative data were analysed using SPSS 16.0 and anthropometry data were analyzed using BPI INFO anthro pack then transformed into Z-Score. Dietary intakes were analyzed using Nutrisurvey (2007). Descriptive statistics were used to describe the results on nutrient composition, sensory evaluation, demographic data, and children's dietary, anthropometric and morbidity characteristics. Inferential statistics such as ANOV A, paired t-test, independent t-test were used to determine statistically significant differences at 95% CI, Pearson's product moment correlation for significant relationships 95% CI and linear regression for significant associations between selected variables. The findings indicated that amaranth grain has higher content of proteins (l5.29±0.SOg), total lipids (S.50±0.90g) dietary fibre (5.50±0.20g), iron (20±0.Smg), zinc (4.00±0.6mg) and potassium 42S.S0±1.2mg) compared to the local cereals. The most preferred porridge was the amaranth maize blend followed by fermented amaranth porridge which was used for intervention. Baseline findings indicated inadequate mean intake of kilocalories (1281.10± 379.69 Kcal vitamin A (268.35 ± 216.65ug) calcium (412.41±253.79 mg) and selenium (26±12.93 ug) by the study children. There was significant difference (p< 0.001) between pre- and post intervention mean intake of all nutrients except for selenium. Pre intervention stunting was 36.5%, wasting 34% and underweight 30.8%. Post-intervention stunting was 32.7%, wasting was 21.2% and underweight 17.3%.Wasting and underweight reduced significantly (p=O.OOI) after intervention. There was reduced prevalence of illness and significant improvement (p<O.OOI) between pre and post-intervention CD4 counts. The findings indicated that amaranth grain is higher in nutrients and that consumption of fermented amaranth grain porridge had a positive significant contribution to the nutrition status, CD4 counts and reduced morbidity incidences of HIV infected children .. It is recommended that public awareness, education on the nutritive value and sensitization on consumption of amaranth grain by persons infected with HIV and AIDS be promoted and scaled up by nutritionists.