|Factors associated with complementary feeding practices among children aged 6-23 mo in Malawi: an analysis of the Demographic and Health Survey 2015-2016|
||Nkoka O, Mhone TG, and Ntenda PAM
||International Health, ihy047; DOI: 10.1093/inthealth/ihy047
Children under five
Optimal child complementary feeding practices are crucial for nutritional status, growth, development and health, and ultimately affect child survival. This is the first population-based study in Malawi that aimed to examine factors associated with complementary feeding practices among children aged 6-23 mo.
Utilizing data from the 2015-16 Malawi Demographic and Health Survey (MDHS), 4732 children aged 6-23 mo and their mothers were analysed. The MDHS produced a nationally representative sample using a multistage cluster sampling design that included sampling weights. The impact of child, maternal, household, community and health service utilization factors on complementary feeding practices was examined using the generalized estimating equation logistic regression.
After controlling for a wide range of covariates, children from mothers with secondary or post-secondary education and from mothers working in agriculture and living in the central region were significantly more likely to have timely introduction to solid, semi-solid or soft food. Surprisingly, being >1 y of age was associated with reduced odds of achieving minimum meal frequency. In addition, children >1 y of age from mothers older than 24 y and from mothers with primary, secondary and post-secondary education were significantly more likely to achieve minimum dietary diversity. Children from rich households were more likely to achieve both minimum dietary diversity and minimum acceptable diet. Finally, exposure to mass media was significantly associated with increased odds of achieving minimum meal frequency, minimum dietary diversity and minimum acceptable diet.
Public health strategies aimed at reducing childhood undernutrition should focus on children from poor households whose mothers have no formal education and are unemployed. In addition, exposure to mass media had a positive impact on the three complementary feeding indicators. Therefore behaviour change communication messages through mass media aimed at promoting child nutrition are necessary to achieve optimal child complementary feeding practices.