Nutrition Status of Children 6-23 months of mothers in and out of Mother Care Groups in Kiryandongo Refugee settlement
Introduction: Inadequate maternal knowledge on feeding practices of children under two years is related to inappropriate infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices that increases the risk of malnutrition among the children 6 to 23 months. Mother care groups were introduced in Kiryandongo refugee settlement to improve the IYCF practices of the mothers through increasing their knowledge but no follow up study was carried out so as to compare the feeding practices of mothers in and out of care groups. Objectives: To determine the knowledge and feeding practices of mothers in and out of mother care groups as well as nutritional status of their children 6-23 months in Kiryandongo refugee settlement. In addition, the factors that facilitate and serve as barriers regarding to IYCF practices among mothers in and out of mother care-groups was explored. Methodology: A comparative cross-sectional study employing quantitative and qualitative research methods was conducted. Simple random sampling technique was used to select households with mothers who are in the mother care groups compared to those who are not in mother care groups in Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement. All members in the household that met the inclusion criteria were eligible for the study. Detailed analysis such as chi-square for comparison between proportions of children with mothers in and out of care groups and t-test for comparison of the means of various indices of nutritional status among children was done by using ENA for Smart and STATA version 14. For the qualitative data analysis, thematic content analysis was done. Results: There was a significant difference in wasting (p= 0.029) between children of mothers in and out of mother care groups. Three quarters of the children aged 6-23 months of mothers in Mother care groups (MCGs) had more than three meals while 25 % of their counterparts of mothers not in MCGs had less than three meals. Children of mothers in MCGs were fed ≥3 meals (p-value=0.001) and were initiated to complementary feeding at 6 months of age (p-value <0.001) rather than their counterparts of mothers not in MCGs. Mothers both in care groups and not in care groups focus group discussions perceived barriers to proper IYCF practices to six major factors: lack of money, feeding the baby at one month and not giving the baby colostrum, lack of time and a lot of house and garden work, inadequate household food security, lack of social support and laziness, and maternal stress. The perceived facilitators of the IYCF practices included nutrition knowledge, desire for child to become healthy, health and nutrition education Conclusion; Mother Care Group (MCG) approach reduces wasting among infants and young children in Kiryandongo refugee settlement. Children of mothers in MCGs had better meal frequency than those who were not in care groups. Mothers of children 6 to 23 months in MCGs face similar barriers to practicing optimal feeding practices as their counterparts not in MCGs but due to the knowledge attained from MCGs try to maneuver these barriers. Therefore, programs aimed at reducing the barriers to and promoting facilitators of optimal feeding of children significantly improve IYCF practices in the settlement.