Maternal knowledge and practice of Porridge preparation and storage in the home
Background Food safety entails all the conditions and measures that are necessary during the production, processing, storage, distribution and preparation of food to ensure that it is safe, sound, wholesome and fit for human consumption. (1) Food safety and hygiene bscomee a major concern once complementary feeds are introduced to the infant. These feeds are more likely to be contaminated by various microbial agents due the process of preparation and storage as compared to breast milk. Studies done in developing countries have shown that food safety and hygiene practices are grossly inadequate. (2,3) Poor food safety and hygiene practices have been found to be one of the risk factors leading to the increase in the number of diarrheal episodes especially in the second half of infancy. (4) Improvement of food safety and hygiene in the home is important to the general health and wellbeing of our children and the family at large. Objectives The objective is to describe maternal knowledge and practice of porridge hygiene and storage in the home and the factors that are associated with the above. Methods This was a cross sectional survey conducted in the Mbagathi District Hospital, Nairobi: The tools used were questionnaires and focus group discussions. Mothers of children between the ages of 0 - 24 months who had initiated cereal based feeds were interviewed. Results The overall maternal score was 2. Mothers who scored zero in both questions regarding preparation and storage of porridge in the home were classified as having poor knowledge 71/397 (18%). Those who scored one point in both questions were classified as good knowledge 204/397 (51 %) and those who scored one in either question as having some knowledge 121/397 (31 %). The maximum score for practice was 25 and the highest scored by the mothers was 24. The practice score was divided into 4 percentiles. Only 2/397 mothers scored below the zs' percentile (1 %) and 112/397 (28%) below the 50111. Majority were in the 75111 percentile 246/397 (62%) and 37/397 (9ﾰ!o) above the 75111 percentile. The factors significantly associated with knowledge were similar for practice and included the person responsible for preparation of porridge, maternal age, occupation, secondary school education, housing structure, access to toilet and water. Access to safe piped water and a water closet in the home were found to be the strongest predictors of both knowledge and practice . Conclusions 1. Maternal knowledge'is directly related to maternal practice of porridge preparation storage. 2. Half of the mothers had good knowledge of porridge preparation and storage and 71% were above the so' percentile for practice. 3. Young mothers who had low levels of education and income are more likely to have poor knowledge and practice. 4. Piped water in the house and the type of toilet were the most significant factors associated with both knowledge and practice. Recommendations 1. Education of mothers in the antenatal, maternal and child health clinics and any other point of contact with mothers. 2. Encourage young girls to strive for excellence and obtain a minimum of secondary school education. 3. Encourage mothers to involve themselves in incoming generating activities in order to improve their income. 4. Improve access to piped safe water in the homes and encourage use of the water closet toilet for disposal of human waste.