Prevalence of early childhood malnutrition and influencing factors in peri urban areas of Kabarole district, western Uganda
AbstractUganda has one of the highest levels of childhood stunting in sub-Saharan Africa. It is well documented that the nutritional status of young children is one of the most sensitive indicators of sudden changes in health status and food availability, acting as a proxy indicator of socio-economic development. Kabarole District, the focus of the present study, is one of the most fertile areas in Uganda, with high per capita output of
most foods. However, earlier studies in Kabarole District found that over 40% of children below five years of age were stunted. The objective of this study was, therefore, to asses the prevalence of malnutrition and the factors influencing the nutritional status of children below five years of age, in a peri-urban environment in Kabarole District, western Uganda. The study design was a cross sectional descriptive survey, using both qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection. A questionnaire was administered to 93 caretakers of children 6-59 months in randomly
selected households, which explored the various factors that could be affecting the nutritional status of the children. Key information was also sought from a focus group discussion of a few selected mothers. Results revealed that stunting was highly prevalent with 41.6% of the children stunted. Under-weight and wasting were established at 15.7% and 3.4%, respectively. Education level of mother/caretaker (p=0.02), age of child (p=0.03), receipt of information on child feeding (p=0.009),
illness (p=0.004) and time of introduction of other foods (p=0031) were significantly related to child stunting. On the other hand, household size, number of meals per day and awareness about the causes of malnutrition, were non significantly associated with child stunting. These findings indicate that malnutrition, especially stunting, in this cohort of children in peri-urban areas of Kabalore District, is a big problem. Poor education levels of the mothers/caretakers and poor child feeding practices are some
of the factors identified as major contributors to this problem. It is therefore recommended that appropriate nutrition interventions, particularly equipping mothers/caretakers with knowledge and skills in child feeding, child health, sanitation and other best practices for proper childcare, be put in place to address the problem of childhood malnutrition in Kabarole District and other areas in Uganda, and indeed in
Sub-Saharan Africa, with similar settings.
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