Nutritional status and effect of maternal employment among children aged 6–59 months in Wolayta Sodo Town, Southern Ethiopia: a cross-sectional study
Background: Childhood malnutrition remains common in many parts of the world; the magnitude of worldwide stunting, underweight and wasting in children under five years of age were 24.7 %, 15.1 % and 7.8 %, respectively. More than 150 million children under the age of five years in the developing world are malnourished. Ethiopia is one of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa with the highest rates of malnutrition. In Ethiopia, 44.4% and 9.7% of children under-five years old were stunted and wasted, respectively. This study was aimed to assess nutritional status and effect of maternal employment among children aged 6–59 months.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in Wolayta Sodo Town, Southern Ethiopia. Socio-demographic characteristics, child feeding and healthcare seeking practice of mothers, and child's anthropometric status were assessed. Probability proportional to size sampling approach was used to select a sample of 316 mothers having children aged 6-59 months. The study was ethically approved by Institutional Review Board of Health Science College, Hawasa University.
Result: The overall result revealed that the prevalence of stunting was 22.2%, of which 21.8% and 22.6% were in children of employed and unemployed mothers, respectively. Low-weight-for age was 10.8% for children of employed mothers and 13.4% for children of unemployed mothers. Wasting was 8.8% and 10.8% for children of employed and unemployed mothers, respectively. There was no statistically significant association between maternal employment and nutritional status of their children. However, chronic malnutrition (stunting) was influenced by being educated mother (OR: 0.37) child age group of 24-59 months (OR: 0.36) and households' fifth wealth quintile (OR: 0.28).
Conclusion: Low prevalence of stunting was observed. Stunting is a public health concern in the study area. Furthermore, stunting is significantly influenced by mothers’ education, household wealth and child age. However, maternal employment was not statistically associated with child nutritional status. Thus, nutritional intervention initiatives should focus on improving household food security, maternal education and agricultural diversification.
Keywords: Childhood Nutrition, Maternal employment, Southern Ethiopia