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Maternal nutrition in rural Kenya: health and socio‐demographic determinants and its association with child nutrition

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High levels of food insecurity and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection place most breastfeeding mothers in Kenya at high risk of malnutrition. We examined the role of selected socio‐economic, demographic and health factors as determinants of nutritional status among HIV‐infected and HIV‐uninfected mothers in rural Kenya and further examined the interrelationship between maternal nutritional and child nutritional status within this population. A cross‐sectional design was used to collect data from non‐pregnant mothers with children ages 4–24 months in Kisumu District, Kenya. Over 80% of the mothers were breastfeeding at the time of the study. Mean maternal body mass index (BMI) (21.60 ± 3.15) and percent body fat (22.29 ± 4.86) values were lower than among lactating mothers in other Sub‐Sahara African countries. Maternal HIV status was not significantly associated with any of the maternal nutritional indicators assessed in the study. Breastfeeding, recent severe illness and having multiple children below 2 years of age were negatively associated with maternal nutritional status, while higher maternal age, socio‐economic status and household food security were each positively associated with maternal nutritional status. Significant positive association was reported between maternal weight, height, BMI, mid‐upper arm circumference (MUAC), body fat and fat‐free mass estimates, and children's height‐for‐age, weight‐for‐age, weight‐for‐height and MUAC‐for‐age z‐score. This analysis identifies determinants of maternal nutritional status in rural Kenya and highlights the importance of interventions that address malnutrition in both HIV‐infected and HIV‐uninfected mothers in rural Kenya. Significant association between maternal and child nutritional status stresses the importance of addressing maternal and young child nutritional status as interrelated factors.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Global & Community Health, College of Health & Human Services, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia 22030, USA 2: Kisumu Medical and Education Trust, PO Box 6805-40103, Kisumu, Kenya

Publication date: 2012-07-01

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