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Greater Maternal Food Insecurity is Associated with Higher Infant Morbidity Symptoms in Western Kenya

Social Sciences


Objectives: Poor infant health is associated with lower wellbeing later in life. Food insecurity has been associated with higher rates of some morbidities in young children. However, this relationship has not been well studied in infants younger than six months or in Kenya. Thus, we sought to determine the relationship between maternal food insecurity and morbidity in three-month-old infants in Nyanza, Kenya and to characterize infant morbidity covariates. Methods: Pith Moromo is a longitudinal study in Nyanza, Kenya studying HIV and food insecurity during pregnancy and early infancy. Three months postpartum, 302 mother-infant dyads were visited by study nurses and given surveys. The Individual Food Insecurity Access Scale (IFIAS, range: 0-27) was used to measure maternal food insecurity. Morbidities (fever, cough, difficulty breathing, runny nose, diarrhea, vomiting, and earache) were reported by the mother with a two-day recall period. Infant HIV status was tested virologically. BMI was calculated from anthropometric measurements. The Principal Components Analysis (PCA, range: ?) was used to measure household asset index. A multivariate logistic regression model was built using a backwards stepwise function, dichotomizing symptomatic and asymptomatic infants. Results: The mean IFIAS score of 10.8 (5.6) suggests high food insecurity among participants. Of three-month-olds, 39% had at least one morbidity symptom. In a multivariate model, maternal food insecurity is significantly and positively associated with infant morbidity (OR=1.06, p=0.02), as are maternal morbidity (OR=2.59, p=0.00), peri-urban residence (OR=2.23, p=0.03), and positive infant HIV status (OR=6.03, p=0.04). Conclusion: Maternal food insecurity, maternal morbidity, peri-urban residence, and positive infant HIV status are significantly and positively associated with infant morbidity at the age of three months in Nyanza, Kenya. These results indicate four possible risk factors for morbidity in early infancy to be targeted in interventions in Nyanza.

Kathleen A. Clark, et al.


April, 2018

DOI: 10.21985/N2VX1Z