Maternal depression and malnutrition in children in southwest Uganda: a case control study

Maternal depression and malnutrition in children in southwest Uganda: a case control study

Malnutrition remains one of the most significant child health problems in developing countries with an estimated 53 % of child deaths per year attributed to being underweight. The 2011 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS) showed that 38 % of the children were stunted and 16 % were underweight. While dietary and environmental factors are known major contributors to children's nutritional status, maternal depression may also contribute since it disrupts the mothers’ ability to cope with demands of childcare. This study aimed to determine the association between maternal depression and malnutrition in children aged one to 5 years in southwest Uganda.

The study was undertaken between October and December 2014 on children aged one to 5 admitted to the Mbarara regional referral hospital.

The authors conclude that maternal depression impacts negatively on child nutrition and development as shown by a higher prevalence of depression among mothers of malnourished children compared to the control group. Routine screening and treatment for depression should be included in all maternal and child health clinics.

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