The nutritional status of young children 0-24 months attending clinics in Tshwane health sub-district 1, Gauteng Province, South Africa
Children between the ages 0 - 24 months are at high nutritional risk, which affects their growth and development, cognitive capacity, and productivity in adulthood. Therefore, this study aimed to determine the nutritional status of young children 0 - 24 months attending clinics in Tshwane Health Sub-District 1, Gauteng province, South Africa. A clinic-based cross-sectional quantitative descriptive study design was applied in this study. Anthropometric data were collected from 270 young children (107 aged 0 – 6 months, 91 aged 6.1 – 12 months, 47 aged 12.1 – 18 months, and 25 aged 18.1 – 24 months) in 10 clinics in Tshwane Health Sub-District 1 using a questionnaire. Data was captured on a Microsoft Excel 2016 spreadsheet and analysed using SAS (SAS Institute Inc, Carey, NC, USA), Release 9.4. A Pearson chi-square test was used to test for correlation between the socio-economic, demographic and the nutritional status of young children, where a P-value ≤0.05 was considered significant. The results of the study showed that 160 (59.3%) had normal weight for length, 18 (6.7%) were wasted, 22 (8.2%) were severely wasted, 24 (8.9%) were overweight and 46 (17.0%) were obese. One hundred and fifty-six (57.8%) had normal weight for age, 47 (17.4%) were underweight, 17 (6.3%) were severely underweight, 39(14.4%) had weight for age >+2SD and 11(4.1%) had weight for age >+3SD. 204 (75.6%) had normal length for age, 26 (9.6%) were stunted, 40 (14.8%) were severely stunted. For overweight young children, there was a significant association between weight and the number of people in the households, at P<0.038 and mothers weekly spend on food, at P<0.027. There was a significant association between length and the number of persons in the households at P<0.047, mothers' income at P<0.047, and mothers weekly spend on food at P<0.051. For underweight young children, there was a significant association between weight and weekly spend on food at P<0.037. There was a significant association between length and mothers' education at P<0.007. Although, the majority of young children had normal weight for length, normal weight for age and normal length for age. In this study, a significant number of young children were malnourished. The young child’s weight for length and weight for age were influenced by the mother’s weekly expenditure on food. Since the mother’s employment status influences the child's weight and length, the implementation of alternative nutrition intervention strategies to monitor and improve the nutritional status of young children is necessary.
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