Effect of paternal education about complementary feeding of infants in Kisumu county, Kenya
Improved health of infants is dependent on the supportive role of the fathers. There is limited research done in Kenya on father involvement and how it affects feeding practices of the infant. The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact on complementary feeding practice of nutrition education targeted to the father. A randomized control trial was conducted with 290 father-mother pairs recruited into the study. The mothers, who were six months pregnant and receiving antenatal services at Kisumu County Hospital, provided the contact point for recruitment of the fathers who were engaged in this study. The consenting mothers provided information of the ‘expectant father’ who were later contacted and invited to go to the hospital together with the mother. Consent was obtained from the study participants in a written form. Randomization was done to the father-mother pairs and eventually, each group had 145 pairs. The pairs in the intervention group were educated on complementary feeding while the other pairs in the control group did not get any intervention. Post-natal, feeding on solids and semi-solids of the infants were assessed at six months and at nine months of age. Qualitative assessment through focus group discussions were done to obtain information on fathers’ support towards complementary feeding. Overall analysis was done on 278 pairs with 12 lost to follow up. Introduction to solids and semi-solids had been done by a majority (96.7%) by six months of the infant’s age in both groups. Solid and semi-solid foods were introduced significantly earlier in the control group and compared to the intervention group (chi-square test; p<0.01). Minimum acceptable diet was significantly higher in the intervention group than the control group (chi-square test; p<0.01). In conclusion, giving fathers information on complementary feeding influences their support towards infant feeding, resulting in positive outcomes in complementary feeding practices.
Key words: Father, Involvement, Infant, Complementary feeding, Nutrition Education, Kisumu, Kenya