Open Access Maternal income-generating activities, child care, and child nutrition in Mali

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Abstract:

Background. Women in sub-Saharan Africa play a key role in household food security. The income-generating activities of mothers are postulated to be related to the nutritional status of children.

Objective. The objective of the study was to examine whether maternal income-generating activities, maternal food production, and child care were determinants of the nutritional status of children in rural West Africa. The study hypotheses were that maternal income-generating activities and maternal food production are positively associated with children's dietary intake and anthropometry, and that maternal income-generating activities are not associated with child care.

Methods. Data were collected from a cross-sectional sample of mother–child pairs on maternal time use, child anthropometry, maternal food production, dietary intake, parasitic infection, and household, maternal, and child determinants of child nutritional status. The children were 12 to 36 months of age and included breastfed and nonbreastfed children. Food intake was assessed by the 24-hour recall method. The data were analyzed by multivariate regression and controlled for confounding variables.

Results. Time spent by the mother in income-generating activities was negatively associated with children's animal protein intake and height-for-age (p < .05). Maternal cash crop production was positively associated with children's weight-for-height, whereas maternal staple food production was negatively associated with energy intake from non-breastmilk foods (p < .05). The negative relationships observed for children's animal protein intake and children's height-for-age were not mediated by any child-care variable. Maternal supervision of feeding was a positive predictor of children's animal protein intake. Giardia infection was negatively related to children's weight gain (p < .05).

Conclusions. Own-account cash crop farming by mothers benefits children's nutrition. Maternal income-generating activities in the context of extended families, sibling caretaking, and prolonged breastfeeding do not adversely affect child care.
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  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106

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