Factors influencing consumption of traditionally fermented milk (mursik) and diarrhoea episodes among preschool children (1-5 years old) in Kapseret location -Uasin Gishu county, Kenya
Consumption of fermented milk is attributed to a number of health benefits to human beings. However, these enormous health benefits of mursik are rarely known to benefit preschool children. This can only however be achieved if in-depth information on factors influencing mursik consumption is determined. The objective of this study therefore was to establish factors influencing consumption of traditionally fermented milk (mursik) and diarrhoae episodes among pre-school children. The study sought to determine; average daily households’ milk and average weekly households’ mursik production and the extent of consumption; determine respondents’ nutritional knowledge levels, attitudes and perception on mursik consumption among pre-school children; and, establish the relationship between mursik consumption and occurrence of diarrhoea among pre-school children in Kapseret location in Uasin Gishu County. A crosssectional study involving 383 Kalenjin households was conducted within Kapseret location. Fishers’ formula (Fisher et al, 1991) was used to compute the households’ samples. Semi structured questionnaires and interview guides for focus group discussions (FGDs) were the main instruments of data collection for this study. Bivariate correlation and Logistic regression analysis were performed to establish associations between variables .Data was entered in MS Access, and analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS, 2007) version 16.0 for windows and tested for significance at P < 0.05.The Analyzed data was represented using cumulative frequency tables, percentages and pie charts. The study established that the mean household size was 5 members, while the mean age of respondents was 37 years. Most households produced an average of two litres of fresh milk each per day and an average of one litre of mursik weekly. The annual Mursik consumption among preschool children was below the WHO recommendation of fresh milk consumption of 19-62kg per capita. Most households fed their pre-school children on 250 millilitres of mursik once a week. Mursik consumption was significantly (P< 0.05) correlated with education level of respondents (r= 0.118, P= 0.021), Household milk production (r=0.0309, P=0.000), respondents’ nutrition knowledge on mursik (r=0.151, P=0.003) but negatively correlated with household size(r= -0.093, P=0.051). Logistic regression showed significant association between mursik consumption and respondents’ nutrition knowledge, education level and households livelihoods. Mursik consumption was significantly related with low frequency of fever (P= 0.012, OR= 0.044, 95% CI: 0.016 to 0.122) and diarrhoae (P= 0.000, OR= 0.068, 95%CI; 0.032, 0.145) among children Results indicate that majority (86.4%) of respondents had adequate nutrition knowledge, but the application of these nutrition concepts was lacking among the respondents. Socio-economic factors, cultural beliefs, attitudes and negative perceptions among respondents on mursik consumption were also identified as some of the main factors that greatly influence mursik consumption among pre-school age children. There seems to be a need for a well designed nutrition intervention programs in the county focusing on sensitizing mothers on the importance of traditionally fermented milk to children and as a transition food because it is culturally acceptable and affordable.