COMPLEMENTARY FOODS FOR CHILDREN UNDER TWO YEARS OF AGE AND ITS RELATION TO NUTRITIONAL STATUS AND SELECTED SOCIO-DEMOGRAPHIC FACTORS IN BASRAH

Abstract

ABSTRACTThis is a cross-sectional study done in Basrah governorate during the period from the 1stof April to theend of August 2005, in two primary health care centers to identify feeding patterns for children 6-24months of age, types of complementary foods given to these children and association with the studiedchildren nutritional status. A total of 428 children were recruited in this survey; 205(47.9%) boys and223(52.1%) girls. The majority of surveyed children (386 children, 90.2%) were receiving complementaryfoods alone or in combination with other forms of feeding like bottle or breast-feeding. Only 42 children(9.8%) have never been given complementary food. Breast-feeding was given alone or in combinationwith complementary food or formula feeding in 281 child (65.6%) of the sample. About 15.1% of thestudied children were moderately stunted and 9.4% were severely stunted. Severe stunting was mostcommon at the 19-24 month age group. From the total surveyed children, 5.1% were severely wasted and15.6 % moderately wasted. There was a significant positive correlation between stunting and age. Bothstunting and wasting show a statistically significant increase with age. Stunting was increased withincrease in age more than wasting which also increased with age but to a lower extent. There was asignificant negative correlation between parental education and malnutrition especially stunting as anincrease in educational level was associated with a lower proportion of stunted children. For bothparents, those who were illiterate or achieved only primary school education represent near half of thetotal number of families in this survey. Increase in both parental educations was associated with asignificant improvement in frequency of different diet administration. About 37.7% and 17.3% of thesurveyed children had two or three other siblings aged less than five years respectively. 63.1% ofchildren were given drinking water without sterilization. Complementary food administration ispositively correlated with age and negatively correlated with malnutrition. Administered foods weremainly in the form of low energy density food and were low in animal protein. Those children offeredcomplementary foods less frequently are more likely to be malnourished. On the other hand, childrenwho were breastfed were less likely to be malnourished even if complementary foods were not given.This nutritional survey has provided useful information about nutritional problems for children 6-24months. Malnutrition affects a significant proportion of children from (6-24) months of age. Possiblecontributing factors include: lack of parental education especially among mothers, poor socioeconomicstatus of families and use of unsterilized water for drinking. Complementary foods administered to thesechildren consist mainly of low energy density and low animal protein diet. Breast-feeding continues tobe a very important as it protects against childhood malnutrition even after 6 months of age and throughthe second year of life.