Assessment Of Feeding Practices And The Nutritional Status Of Children Aged 0 -36 Months In Yatta Division, Kitui District
MaInutrition is a multifaceted problem and among the underlying causes is infant and young child feeding practices+ The low rate of exclusive breast feeding for six months is a contributor to the future health status of children. This is a cross sectional study aimed at establishing the relationship between infant and young child feeding practices and maternal, child and households factors, and the nutritional status of children aged 0-36 months in Yatta Division, Kitui District - Kenya. Informationwas collected using structured questionare and focus group discussion guidelines,and included information on socio demographic features, feeding practices and anthropometric measurements of the children. A total of340 mothers (with children aged 0 -36 months) were interviewed. Data was analyzed using SPSS and CDC Anthro soft wares to determine relationship between feedingpractices, their determinants and nutritional status of children aged 0 - 36 Months. Majorityof children 265(78%) were on mixed feeding, 20.2% were predominantly breast fed,while only 6 (1.8%) were exclusively breast fed, Breast feeding initiation was done withinan hour after birth by 274 (80.7%) of mothers, and frequency of breast feeding dependedon demand. Child related factors associated with feeding practices were age of thechild, immunization status and attendance of growth monitoring clinics. Maternal factorsassociated with feeding practices were age, parity and maternal access to informationon feeding practices. Morbidity status was not significantly (p=O.172) associatedwith feeding practices. It was also established that, grand mothers and siblings re the principal alternative childcare givers. In conclusion,the study established there is lack of nutritional knowledge on feeding practicesamong the mothers. It was also established that, feeding practices of infant and youngchildren are associated with child, maternal and health workers factors. Morbidity statusis not associated with feeding practices and the nutritional status of children is not associatedwith feeding practices. It is recommended that, community nutrition strategy be established, headed by health workersand all stakeholders in health sector, to promote proper feeding practices and improvethe welfare of mothers. This partnership would establish the missing nutritional knowledge,through community based programmes headed by health workers and concernedstake holders, to create awareness on infant and young child feeding practices. It is also recommended that, health workers be updated by the relevant departments on infantfeeding policy in order to update their knowledge through continuous medical education. It is also recommended that future research in this area should be conducted takingcare of confounding effects.