The influence of maternal socio-economic status on infant feeding practices and anthropometry of HIV exposed infants
The purpose of this quantitative, descriptive, cross sectional survey was to determine whether maternal socio-economic status has any influence on infant feeding practices and infant anthropometry of HIV exposed infants. Information was collected from 125 mother-infant pairs who presented at the health clinic with infants aged between six weeks to six months. Nearly twice as many infants (49.6%) of the single mothers were underweight as compared to infants (19.8%) whose parents were married. Similarly, twice as many infants (50%) were underweight if their mothers walked to the health facility compared to 23.8% of infants’ whose mothers’ used taxis. Education and employment status of mothers appear to prevent infants from becoming underweight as twice as many infants (45%) were underweight when their mothers did not complete secondary school, compared to 23.3% of infants whose mothers did complete secondary schooling. Nearly fourfold more infants (59.5%) were underweight if their mothers were unemployed compared to those infants (14.9%) whose mothers were employed. Housing, the presence of a flush toilet or running tap water in the house did not improve the body mass index of infants. A total of 57.4% of infants whose mothers resided in brick houses, 71.9% of infants whose mothers had access to flush toilets and 57.5% who had running tap water in the house were still underweight. Infants whose mothers lived in houses with less than two rooms or where 3-4 people occupy the house had a higher risk of being underweight (54.6% and 40.5%, respectively). Sub-optimal feeding patterns are still present despite the availability of free formula feeds.
Keywords: Socio-economic status, infant feeding, anthropometry.
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