Infant and young child nutritional status and their caregivers’ feeding knowledge and hygiene practices in internally displaced person camps, Somalia

Authors: Mohamed Kalid, Fatumo Osman, Munshi Sulaiman, Fiona Dykes and Kerstin Erlandsson

BMC Nutrition, 2019


Background: In an attempt to design an educational programme targeting caregivers of children aged 6 to 59 months in internally displaced persons camps in Somalia, the objective of this study was twofold. First, to explore the nutritional situation of all children aged 6–59 months enrolled in a nutrition programme provided by Save the Children in 2017 in internally displaced persons camps. Second, to identify gaps in the caregivers’ hygiene and feeding practices.

Methods: In a study of 1655 households, 1655 caregivers for 2370 children aged 6 to 59 months enrolled in a nutrition programme provided by Save the Children answered an adapted questionnaire on hygiene and feeding practices. At the same time, based on standard criteria in the questionnaire, naturalistic observations of caregivers’ hygiene practices were conducted. Every child in the study was measured with anthropometric Mid-Upper-Arm Circumference measurements for the classification of Moderate Acute Malnutrition, Severe Acute Malnutrition and Global Acute Malnutrition. Descriptive statistics were used for analysis.

Results: 1) There was Severe (12.1%) and Global Acute (19.9%) Malnutrition among children included in the nutrition programme, more frequently in the 6–24 month age group compared to the 25–59 month age group (p <0.01). 2). The practices in the households were below what could generally be considered hygienic. 3) There was poor caregivers’ knowledge of breastfeeding benefits and complementary foods.

Conclusion: Child malnutrition might derive from gaps in the caregiver’s knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding hygiene and infant feeding. An awareness of these gaps can be helpful in designing future educational programmes that target caregivers, particularly in at-risk population groups.

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