Mother’s nutrition-related knowledge and child nutrition outcomes: Empirical evidence from Nigeria
This paper (PDF) in PLOS ONE investigates the association of mother’s nutrition-related knowledge with nutrition outcomes of young children living in rural Nigeria and whether mother’s education has a complementary effect on such knowledge in producing positive child nutrition outcomes in such settings. 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. However, less is known about the relationship between mother’s nutrition related knowledge and child nutritional outcomes. The study found that mother’s knowledge is independently and positively associated with HAZ (height-for-age) and WHZ (weight-for-height) z-scores in young children. Higher levels of mother’s education, typically above primary, have a positive association with child HAZ and WHZ scores. The authors 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. Concluding, 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. Programs should identify which child care practices should be encouraged to enhance maternal and child nutrition and health; promoting such could mitigate the negative association of mother’s lack of education with children’s health. Finally, adult education through behavioral change communications would be an effective means for reaching out to poor and less educated Nigerian women.