Maternal nutritional knowledge, child feeding practices, and nutrition status in Njombe and Geita Tanzania - ethnicity perspective

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Sokoine University of Agriculture


Stunting is still one of the major public health issues affecting developing countries, including Tanzania. Despite the effort to achieve child health, more than half of children aged less than five years were stunted. Njombe and Geita are among the regions with a higher prevalence of child stunting in Tanzania. Stunting arises as a result of the cumulative effects of suboptimal Infant and Young Child Feeding Practices (IYCF) practices; poor maternal nutrition knowledge; and poor maternal and child health conditions. There is little information on whether perception of ethnicity had an effect on executing IYCF and maternal knowledge purposely to improve child nutrition status. This study assessed maternal nutritional knowledge, IYCF feeding practices, child nutrition status, and the respective roles of nutrition interventions in regions with high rates of stunting and different ethnicities (Geita and Njombe), Tanzania. A cross-section study was conducted on a sample of 150 mother-child pairs that were randomly selected within regions of high stunting rates (Njombe and Geita) in Tanzania. This study was piloted in the first quarter of 2020. A structured questionnaire was used for collecting socio-demographic, feeding practices, and anthropometric data. Individual dietary diversity scores were from 24-hourse recall; birth date was calculated from the child's growth card; and standard anthropometric procedures were used to obtain child height and weight. Major ethnic groups from each district were merged to satisfy the statistical power. The ENA for SMART software was used for HAZ, WAZ, and WHZ, and then entered into IBM SPPS Statistics 21 for further analysis. Descriptive and logistic regression models were used to summarize data and explore causes and factors (socio-demographic features and IYCF practice indicators) of child stunting. In the Njombe and Bukombe districts, both had optimal IYCF practicesiii whereby 46.9% of infants-initiated breast milk within 1 hour after birth; minimum dietary diversity was 11.6%; and only 9.1% of children in Geita had a minimum acceptable diet. Also, the availability of nutrition interventions and their readiness to improve services had a statistically significant effect on optimal IYCF practices and child nutrition status (p = 0.014 and 0.048) respectively. About 90.5% of adolescent mothers (15–20 years) had poor nutrition knowledge (p = 0.005). In general, major ethnic groups in the Njombe district had the highest rate of increased stunting compared to major ethnic groups in Bukombe district (53.8% vs. 37.6%; p = 0.5). Infants aged 0–11.9 months were more stunted than other age groups. The stunting rate of male infants in Njombe district was relatively higher (68%) than female infants (45%). The major ethnic group in Njombe had a mean HAZ of (-1.85) while (-0.91) in the major ethnic group in the Bukombe district. Since the findings showed there was suboptimal IYCF practice and poor maternal nutritional knowledge as determinant factors for child stunting, this highlights the need for initiating and enlarging multicomponent nutrition interventions with vital components for improving nutrition status based on ethnicity perspective. Keywords: Malnutrition, Stunting, Maternal nutrition knowledge, Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices, and Nutrition intervention.



Maternal nutritional, Knowledge, Child feeding practices, Nutrition, Njombe region, Geita region, Tanzania, Ethnicity perspective