Online Program

Child stunting in Zambia: A look into maternal and child nutrition behaviors and the feasibility of change

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dianne Fragueiro, MPH, Strategic Communications and Marketing Division, ICF International, Rockville, MD
Nicole Vincent, MA, Strategic Communications and Marketing Division, ICF International, Rockville, MD
John Manda, Communications Support for Health, Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation Unit, Chemonics International, Lusaka, Zambia
Samantha Herrera, MPH, International Health and Development Division, ICF International, Rockville, MD
Kevin Chilemu, Communications Support for Health, Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation Unit, ICF International, Lusaka, Zambia
Background: In Zambia, levels of malnutrition, measured through rates of child stunting are very high. According to the 2007 Zambia Demographic Health Survey, 45 percent of children are stunted, 5 percent are wasted, and 15 percent are underweight. The highest prevalence of stunting is in rural areas with 48 percent.

Methods: The USAID-funded Communications Support for Health project conducted a formative research study to inform the development of a behavior change communication campaign to improve the nutritional status of pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and children under the age of 2. Research methods used were Trials of Improved Practices (TIPs) and interviews. Participants included pregnant women, mothers, fathers, and grandmothers of children under the age of 2.

Results: While mothers practice ideal breastfeeding behaviors, they need to improve practices such as proper positioning and increased length of feeding sessions. Most mothers followed guidance in delaying solid foods until their child is 6 months old. However, mothers lack awareness of the importance of introducing a variety of solid calorie-dense foods into their children's diet. Some mothers are not aware of what foods can be given to a sick child. As a result, they overfeed or give non-nutritious fluids.

The TIPs methodology revealed that the behaviors most likely to change among mothers are associated with breastfeeding, including use and empty of both breasts. Those most difficult to change were increasing fruits, vegetables, and proteins and number of meals or snacks for mother and child. Water chlorination was also described as difficult to change.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the most common feeding practices for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers of infants and children under age of two. Identify underlying influential factors that influence the feeding practices for infants and children under the age of two. Discuss what behavior changes were most easily changed during the trials of improved practices and most likely to change as a result of the campaign.

Keyword(s): Nutrition, Communication

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I carried out the analysis of data being presented and wrote sections of the research findings report.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.