Nutritional status of children under five years, and asociated factors, in Mbeere south sub county, Kenya
The nutritional status of children under five years is an indicator of nutritional situation in society. Research estimates that risks related to stunting, severe wasting and intrauterine growth retardation are linked to 2.2 million deaths and 21% of disability-adjusted life years worldwide for children under 5 years. In 2012, 2.2 million people in Kenya were classified in either the crisis or stressed phase of food insecurity and Mbeere south Sub County was classified in stressed phase. Malnutrition in Eastern Kenya where Mbeere Sub County is located had high (42%) stunting, (7.3%) wasting and 20% underweight. Considering that Mbeere South Subcounty is generally low potential dry zone, this situation could have impacted negatively on nutrition status of vulnerable groups especially children under five years. However, limited data exists to support this. Therefore, this study sought to determine nutritional status of children under five years and associated factors in Mbeere South Sub-county for informed appropriate action to mitigate the high levels of malnutrition in the region. The nutritional status of one child from each of 144 households were sampled in Kiambeere Ward in Mbeere Sub County was assessed using anthropometric measurements (height/length, weight, MUAC). Data were collected on household demographic and socio-economic characteristics, food production, utilization and food consumption, water and sanitation situation and child characteristics including infant and young child feeding practices (IYCF), immunization and morbidity status using pretested structured questionnaires. Study children were classified according to levels of their nutritional status based on WHO (2006) reference standards. Energy and protein intake was compared with requirements on the basis of the household composition in terms of adult equivalent (AE). Descriptive statistics were used for analysis of socio-economic, demographic characteristics, IYCF, immunization and morbidity data. The chi-square was used to determine differences in proportions and Pearson correlation were done to determine association between independent variables and nutritional status of children. The mean household size was 4.73 ±0.743 and 10% of the households were female headed. The ratio of male to female in the study population was approximately 1: 1.1. The dependency ratio of the population was 1.02. About 90 % of the households in the study population relied on unsafe water supply from unprotected water sources. Only 6.2% and 18.4 % of the households met their energy and protein requirement from the food consumed by the household. Up to 39% of the children were stunted, 7.1% were wasted and 18.1 0% were underweight. These levels were above the national average and high enough to classify the community as chronically foods insecure, according to the FAO/FNSAU integrated food security phase classification of 2006. The prevalence of stunting and wasting was significantly higher in boys than in girls (χ2 =6.765, p =.034) and (χ2= 13.053, p = .036) respectively. Over 80% of the children below 24 months were reported to have breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months of life. Majority (90.8%) of the children were fully immunized for age and 95.8% received the BCG vaccine. The dropout rate was 3.7% OPV, 1.5% DPT-HepB-Hib and 7.5% Pneumococcal vaccine.