ASSOCIATION BETWEEN FATHER’S INVOLVEMENT IN CHILD CARE AND NUTRITIONAL STATUS OF 6-59 MONTHS OLD CHILDREN IN NAMUWONGO SLUM AREA, KAMPALA.
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Introduction: Under-nutrition has remained a major global health problem leading to poor nutritional status of over 200 million under-5 children worldwide. Developing countries are still the most affected with over three quarters of under-nourished children in Asia and Africa. In Uganda, about 29% of the children below five years are stunted and 4% wasted and the burden is greatest among the poorest. Children in slums are at major risk of poor nutritional status due to a variety of causes. Mothers are the usual care-takers of these children but continually report low fathers’ involvement like in making final decisions about young child feeding as a major hindrance. Therefore involvement of fathers in the care of children might influence the nutritional status but this relationship still remains understudied. Objective: The objective of the study was to establish the association between father’s involvement in child care and the nutritional status of children aged 6-59 months in Namuwongo slum area. Methodology: A cross-sectional survey of 559 households was conducted in Namuwongo slum area. Participants were mothers who provided information on father’s involvement in care of one randomly selected child within the household. Data collection was conducted using a tool with 14 child care practices, including data on child’s height/length and weight. Nutritional status of the children was defined by the three indicators of stunting, wasting and underweight, while father’s involvement in child care was defined as high or low based on participation in at least 8 care practices. The association between child’s nutritional status and father’s involvement was determined by computing odds ratios at 95% confidence using logistic regression by Stata. 13. Results: The prevalence of stunting was 30.8% (95% CI 26.8-34.7), wasting 7.3% (95% CI: 5.0-9.6) and underweight 12.5% (95% CI: 9.6-15.3). A higher percentage of girls (35%) compared to boys (26%) were stunted while a lower percentage of girls (5%) were wasted compared to boys (10%). More than half of fathers (54.9%) had low involvement in childcare. Low father’s involvement was significantly associated with stunting (AOR: 1.58, p=0.024) and wasting (AOR: 3.62, p=0.003) but had no association with underweight (AOR: 0.98, p=0.793). Having less than 3 meals a day (AOR: 2.23, p=0.007) and having suffered more than one episode of diarrhea (AOR: 2.11, p=0.025) were associated with underweight and mothers being employed was associated with wasting (AOR: 2.30, p=0.02) and underweight (AOR: 2.62, p=0.001). Conclusion and Recommendations: Low father’s involvement in child care was associated with higher percentage of stunting and wasting among children aged 6-59 months. Therefore strategies to promote higher father’s involvement should be developed and implemented.