Association between malnutrition and feeding practice among children aged six–twenty four months at Mbagathi District Hospital-Kenya
Background: Exclusive breast feeding for the first six months of life and appropriate introduction of complementary feeds is a key determinant of the nutrition status of children. Objective: To assess the feeding practices among children 6- 24 months of age and its relationship with their nutritional status at Mbagathi District hospital. Methodology: We conducted a case control study at the MDH pediatric emergency outpatient clinic between February and April 2013. Nutritional assessment was done using anthropometry weight for-height and height-for age; and examined the children for visible severe wasting as well as the presence of edema. Malnourished children who fulfilled the selection criteria and those who their parent accepted to participate in the study were consecutively enrolled into the study. And each case was matched with well-nourished controls of similar age. Results: A total of 220 children with their mothers were enrolled in the study in which 110 were cases and 110 were control. A significantly larger proportion of malnourished children (9.4%) than well nourished children (1.8%) were given pre-lacteal feeds (p=0.036; χ2-test. There was a trend toward statistical significance in time breastfeeding was initiated between cases and controls (p=0.07; χ2-test).Slightly higher proportional (80%) of control than cases (75%) were initiated on breastfeeding in the first one hour. A significantly higher proportion (90%) of mothers of children with normal nutritional status than (78%) mothers of malnourished children exclusively breastfed their children for longer periods (p=0.001; χ2-test).Malnourished children were introduced to complimentary feeds at a significantly lower mean age (3.6±0.8 months) compared with children with normal nutrition status (3.9±.4 months) (p=0.003; t-test). Conclusions/recommendations: An inappropriate feeding practice of infant and young children was associated with worse nutritional status. To reduce childhood malnutrition due emphasis should be given in improving the practice of parents on appropriate infant and young child feeding.