A study from Ethiopia has found that mothers having individual support, mostly from family, is the strongest predictor of better infant nutrition.
A number of aspects of social capital were explored to see how they correlated with infant nutrition. Alongside individual support, the researchers looked at membership of community organisations, citizenship activity and feelings on the part of the mother of harmony, trust and belonging.
The only significant correlations with higher dietary diversity that the researchers found were individual support and membership of community organisations, though these things tended to go hand in hand.
The study took place in the poor drought-prone rural region of Oromya in Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, 40% of children display stunting as a result of poor nutrition. 870 mothers were interviewed. Their average age was 26, they had an average of 3.7 children and only 13% of them had received any education at all.
35% of the mothers reported receiving individual support, two thirds of these naming family as the source of that support. Mothers having support from two or more individuals were 5.2 times more likely to provide their infants with ‘minimum dietary diversity’ for the infant, defined as the child having eaten food from four or more food groups in the last 24 hours.
Kang Y, Kim J & Seo E (2017), Association between maternal social capital and infant complementary feeding practices in rural Ethiopia, Maternal and Child Nutrition
Photo: Trocaire. Creative Commons.