Prevalence and factors associated with acute malnutrition in infants aged between 1 to 6 months attending Mulago Hospital
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Background: Acute malnutrition is a major public health problem among children throughout the world particularly in developing countries. In Uganda the prevalence of acute malnutrition is high and is increasingly affecting infants below 6 months of age. In 2006, the prevalence of acute malnutrition was 8.4% compared to 6% in 1995. However, the current prevalence is not known. To attain the Millennium Development Goal number four of reducing child mortality by two thirds by 2015, malnutrition, which is a major contributor towards mortality, needs to be addressed even among the youngest children. The magnitude of acute malnutrition among infants below six months in a hospital setting is largely unknown. In this study we determined the prevalence and factors associated with acute malnutrition in infants aged from1 to 6 months receiving services in Mulago National referral Hospital, Kampala. The objective of the study was to determine the prevalence and factors associated with acute malnutrition in infants aged 1 to 6 months attending Assessment Centre in Mulago National Referral Hospital. Methods: This cross sectional study was conducted in the Assessment Centre of Mulago National Referral Hospital in August 2010. One hundred sixty three infants aged between one month to 6 months were consecutively screened for the study. One hundred thirty six who met the selection criteria were enrolled into the study. Socio-demographic, environmental, clinical characteristics, and physical examination data of each participant was collected using questionnaires. Anthropometry (weight and length) was done using a Salter scale and infantometer respectively. Mothers of all enrolled infants were screened for HIV infection and DNA PCR test for HIV infection was done on HIV exposed infants. Data analysis: Data was analyzed using STATA 10.1 soft ware. The chi squared test was performed for bivariate analysis and the students t test performed for continuous variables. Logistic regression was used to assess factors independently associated with acute malnutrition. Results: The prevalence of acute malnutrition among infants 1 to 6 months of age was 12.5%(17/136). Factors independently associated with acute malnutrition included use of replacement feeding (AOR 17.9, 95% CI 3.93-82.2 p<0.001), partial immunization (AOR 4.08, 95%CI 1.02-16.4 p=0.047), and presence of fever (AOR 5.35, 95%CI 1.23-23.2 p=0.03). Conclusion: Acute malnutrition is prevalent among infants one to six months of age attending Mulago National Referral Hospital in Uganda. Inappropriate feeding practices, partial immunization and febrile illnesses are the main contributing factors towards acute malnutrition in this age group. Recommendations: All infants aged between 1 to 6 months seen at all children’s entry points into Mulago National referral Hospital should be assessed for acute malnutrition. Health workers in contact with mothers and infants should counsel on EBF as the appropriate infant feeding practice irrespective of the mother’s HIV status.