Integrated nutritional intervention among mothers of under-five children in rural communities of a developing country: its effects on maternal practice of complementary feeding and child's nutritional status
Introduction: Complementary feeding is a feeding process that begins immediately after exclusive breast feeding ends at 6 months (from 6-24 months) and it prevents childhood malnutrition. Malnutrition is widespread in most developing countries and accounts for 11% of global disease burden.
Methods: The study employs a quasi-experimental design, with baseline, intervention, and postintervention phases. Both experimental and control sites were rural communities. Intervention was conducted among 167 mothers/child pair independently selected from the study areas through a multi-stage sampling technique. Data was collected using interviewer-administered questionnaire at baseline and six months after intervention from both communities. Weights and heights/length of recruited children was measured. Data was analysed using SPSS statistics software.
Results: The result indicated that malnutrition exists among under-five children in the study area: 65.5% were stunted, 32.3% were underweight and 8.4% were wasted. Post intervention, mothers of under-five children from the study community had higher frequency of giving complementary foods to breastfed children (p =<0.02). However, there was no statistically significant improvement in the malnutritional status of the children post-intervention (P>0.24 in all cases).
Conclusion: Childhood malnutrition in our rural communities can be prevented through integrated nutritional interventions. However, the duration and follow up period of the intervention do have an effect on children's nutritional status. There is need for the Kaduna State Ministry of Health to put in place, prolonged (more than 4 weeks) integrated nutritional interventions that stresses correct complementary feeding practices; to be followed up for more than 6 months, preferably 18 months.
Keywords: Nutritional intervention, complementary feeding, Under-fives, mothers