Relationship between mothers’ nutritional knowledge in childcare practices and the growth of children living in impoverished rural communities

Relationship between mothers’ nutritional knowledge in childcare practices and the growth of children living in impoverished rural communities

The prevalence of chronic malnutrition among under-five children remains persistently high in Ghana. For example, in the Northern Region of Ghana, 32.5% of children below five years are stunted, 12.9% wasted, and 21.8% underweight. Inadequate childcare practices are fundamental to addressing malnutrition among children. Poor maternal education (formal and informal) has been identified as a major constraint to good childcare practices in Ghana. A well-resourced, targeted and coordinated nutrition education can improve maternal nutritional knowledge, healthcare-seeking behaviours, and practices significantly. Consequently, a number of health-related nongovernmental organizations, including Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), World Vision International (WVI), and the Ghana Health Service (GHS) have been promoting proper childcare practices, including appropriate infant-feeding practices and management of childhood illnesses, such as diarrhoea.

It remains unclear whether giving mothers adequate knowledge on proper childcare practices has an independent impact on child growth. This study, therefore, investigates the relationship between mother’s knowledge level in childcare practices and nutritional status of preschool children living in impoverished rural communities of Northern Ghana.

Data used in this study provided evidence that maternal childcare knowledge index of mothers is strongly and positively associated with mean HAZ of children. The association between the nutritional status of the child and childcare knowledge index of the mother is, however, modified by socioeconomic status and age of the child. The results suggest that mothers of low socioeconomic status, living in adverse conditions with inadequate resources, may be unable to apply acquired nutritional knowledge successfully in childcare to benefit their children.

Increase in maternal childcare knowledge through nutrition/health education may contribute significantly to child’s nutritional status in Ghana if there is concurrent improvement in socioeconomic circumstances of women living in deprived rural communities.

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