Care givers' formal and nutrition literacy and its influence on nutritional status of pre-school children in Munyu, Thika East district, Kenya
The objective and purpose of the study was to determine the influence of caregivers' formal and nutritional literacy on the nutritional status of children aged 6-36 months in Munyu location of Thika East District. The sample consisted of 126 households out of 1551 households in a population of 6435 persons who were randomly sampled. In each house one pre-school child was sampled. Data were collected using a pre-tested semi-structured questionnaire, key informant interviews questionnaire and anthropometric measurements from which nutritional indices were derived. Data entry, cleaning management and analysis was done using Statistical Package for Social Sciences software (Version] 7.0).The data were subjected to descriptive statistics, chi-square, odds ratio and student t test. Nutrition literacy is very crucial to enable a care-giver be aware of what food to give to the child and also the frequency of the meals for proper growth and development. Unlike formal literacy, nutrition literacy is not always imparted in formal settings. The mass media and postnatal clinics are some of the avenues through which nutrition education is disseminated. Currently, not everyone attends the postnatal clinics in government hospitals where this is offered. In some cases the mother is too busy with paid employment and entrusts the care of her child to hired house help or relative who may not be well equipped with nutrition literacy. This may lead to the child being malnourished. Nutrition data was inadequate especially in the area studied. This study aim/objective was to avail this data which would contribute in understanding the shortcomings and how well they would be empowered especially in nutrition education so as to help improve nutritional status of pre-school children and help lower cases of malnutrition. XIV Information on child nutritional status, nutritional knowledge of the mother and information on socio-economic status of households was collected in a cross-sectional study of 126 households with children aged 6-36 months in a population of6435 persons in Munyu location ofThika district Central Kenya The area was selected by purposive sampling while the households in the 3 clusters of Munyu, Magana and Komo villages were randomly sampled by skipping one household then moving to the next. The results showed that majority of the mothers got nutrition literacy knowledge from the Maternal and Child Health (MeH) clinics (84.5%) followed by relatives (6.0%), then school and mass media at 3.6% and friends at 2.4 %. Most of the mothers had access to health services which was disseminated by the nurses as there was no nutritionist at the Munyu health centre. The good nutritional status of children was positively related to caregivers having both formal and nutrition literacy. The chi-square results, p=O.OOOshow a highly significant relationship between having both formal and nutrition literacy and good nutritional status of the children. However in some cases since most of the mothers were housewives and farmers, economically they were not well off and this could have led to their children having poor nutrition status despite being formally educated It is important to back up the school system with nutrition education to make the mothers better equipped in taking care of their children and family at large. This is because even the young mothers who left schools recently did not have command of nutrition literacy though they had formal education.