Background: Malnutrition is a problem not only in rural area but also among the urban poor. Also, the urban poor are a neglected segment of population in terms of basic services and amenities. Nutrition in children is affected by various determinants including mothers level of knowledge, attitudes and practices. Hence, this study was conducted in an urban slum setting to understand the extent and determinants of malnutrition in children below five years of age.
Aims & Objectives: The study objectives were to understand the knowledge, attitude and practices of mothers with respect to nutrition of their under five children and to measure the extent of malnutrition in the sample population of under five children.
Materials and Methods: This was a cross sectional study and data was collected on a sample of 300 children under five years and their mothers selected through cluster sampling technique in Turbhe stores urban slum community of Navi Mumbai. Using a semi-structured interview schedule, Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) on nutrition among mothers of these children were assessed and anthropometric measurements were taken. The study used the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for measuring malnutrition. Data was entered and analyzed using SPSS, version 20. z score analysis for malnutrition assessment was done using the appropriate WHO software.
Results: The knowledge levels of mothers regarding breast-feeding were mixed. Majority (88%) of the mothers were aware that only breast-feeding is required post-delivery, and duration of breast-feeding could be more than six months. there was a gap in knowledge about breast-feeding practice during infant illness. Only 9% of mothers had the correct knowledge to increase breast feeding if the infant was ill and 20% felt breast feeding should be decreased during illness of child. Mothers had very poor knowledge about nutritious food. The attitude score was created using the Likert scale with a minimum score of 16 and maximum score of 64. The mean attitude score was 54.29 with a standard deviation of 5.24. In terms of breast-feeding practices, 74 (24.6%) mothers did not initiate breast-feeding within one hour of birth, and only 21 (7%) mothers increased breast feed frequency during illness of child.
Conclusion: The study found gaps in knowledge about breast-feeding practices among mothers and very poor practices related to adequate nutrition for children. Stunting was seen in more than 50 % of children. However, the mothers had a very positive overall attitude about improving nutrition of their children and were willing to learn about it. This provides an opportunity for a targeted intervention among the mothers of these children in the community
Key words: Malnutrition; urban slum; India