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Mother's nutrition-related knowledge and child nutrition outcomes: Empirical evidence from Nigeria
Authors: Olusegun Fadare, Mulubrhan Amare, George Mavrotas, Dare Akerele, and Adebayo Ogunniyi
Source: PLOS ONE , 14(2): e0212775; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0212775
Topic(s): Child health
Country: Africa
Published: FEB 2019
Abstract: BACKGROUND:Nutrition outcomes among young children in Nigeria are among the worse globally. Mother's limited knowledge about food choices, feeding, and health care seeking practices contributes significantly to negative nutrition outcomes for children in most developing countries. Much less is known about the relationship between mother's nutrition-related knowledge and child nutritional outcomes in rural Nigeria. This paper investigates therefore: (i) the association of mother's nutrition-related knowledge with nutrition outcomes of young children living in rural Nigeria, where access to education is limited, and (ii) whether mother's education has a complementary effect on such knowledge in producing positive child nutrition outcomes in such settings. METHODS:Using the Demographic and Health Survey data for Nigeria, we employ both descriptive and regression analyses approaches in analyzing the study's objectives. In particular, we apply ordinary least square (OLS) to investigate the association of mother's nutrition-related knowledge with child HAZ and WHZ while controlling for maternal, child, household and regional characteristics. An index was constructed for mother's nutrition-related knowledge using information on dietary practices, disease treatment and prevention, child immunization, and family planning. RESULTS:We found that mother's knowledge is independently and positively associated with HAZ and WHZ scores in young children. Higher levels of mother's education, typically above primary, have a significant, positive association with child HAZ and WHZ scores. We argue that mother's knowledge of health and nutrition may substitute for education in reducing undernutrition in young children among populations with limited access to formal education. However, the present level of mother's education in rural Nigeria appears insufficient to reinforce knowledge in producing better nutrition outcomes for children. CONCLUSIONS:This study suggests promotion of out-of-school (informal) education, such as adult literacy and numeracy classes where women without formal education can gain health and nutrition knowledge, and practices that could enhance child nutrition outcomes in Nigeria.