Effect of Mother's Characteristics and Infant Feeding Practices on the Nutritional Status of Children (0-2 years) in a Rural Community in Enugu State, Nigeria
AbstractObjective: This study was aimed at determining the effect of mother's characteristics and infant feeding practices on the anthropometric status of children (0-2 years). Subjects and Methods: A cross-sectional survey was carried out in a rural community in Enugu State. Information on mother's characteristics and infant feeding practices was obtained using validated, pretested questionnaire, while anthropometric status of the children were obtained by measuring their weights and heights using standard methods. Height-for-age (stunting), weight-for-height (wasting) and weightfor-age (under nutrition) indices were calculated from the raw data. The relationship between these indices and mother's characteristics was evaluated using Chi-square analysis Result: The results showed that 28% of the children were stunted, 20% were malnourished and 30.8% were wasted. Up to 74.4% of mothers with children 0-6 months of age exclusively breastfed their infants. Few mothers (7.5%) gave breast milk to their babies immediately after birth, while 28.3% gave breast milk 24 hours after birth. The major reason for giving breast milk 24 hours after birth was because breast milk had not started flowing (70.6%).Water was mostly used to sustain the babies within the first 24 hours after birth (46.4%). It was found that none of the exclusively breastfed babies were stunted, malnourished or wasted. Mothers who earned higher income had less stunted malnourished and wasted infants than those who earned lower income. Education and occupation affected the nutritional status of these infants negatively. Conclusion: The study has shown that exclusive breastfeeding remains the best for the infant. It also showed that mother's care giving behaviour was a strong determinant of the nutritional status of the children. Key words: Infant feeding practices, mother characteristics, nutritional status, rural Nigeria.
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