Repositioning nutrition is central to development. Childcare practices, which include feeding practices, appear in the conceptual framework of malnutrition. The objective of this study was to analyze the nutritional status of young children in relation to feeding practices. This cross-sectional, community-based study was conducted in the rural district of Kongoussi (Burkina Faso). Three hundred ninety nine children (95% of expected 420 children: 30 clusters of 14 children), 6-23 months of age, were recruited by "probability proportionate-tosize" cluster sampling. Items related to the early and current breastfeeding patterns and the mode of complementary feeding were recorded by interview of the mothers. Fortified cereals were defined as home-based improved flours by mixing "soumbala," fishmeal, toasted groundnut, or several of these local foods with cereal. Soumbala is a fermented product from the African bean tree used both as a condiment and as a meat substitute in soups, because it is rich in protein and micronutrients. The height-for-age Z-score (HAZ) and weight-for-height Z-score (WHZ) were computed using height and weight measurements. Adjusted mean HAZ and WHZ were derived from multiple linear regression models and compared using analysis of variance (ANOVA) and post hoc t-test with Bonferroni correction.
The prevalence of wasting was 26.3% (95% CI: 21.5% - 30.5%). The mean WHZ (± standard deviation) was –1.39 (± 1.14). The WHZ was associated with the children’s age and the mother’s nutritional status. The prevalence of stunting was 35.8% (95% CI: 29.4% - 41.1%). The mean HAZ was –1.68 (± 1.15). After adjustment for children, mothers and household characteristics, and for current and past breastfeeding patterns, the HAZ remained associated with the mode of complementary feeding among children 12-23 months of age (p=0.018), but not among children 6-11 months of age (p=0.136). Among children 12-23 months of age, the adjusted mean HAZ (standard error) was –1.33 (0.63), -1.61 (0.30), and –2.11 (0.32) for children using fortified cereals, unfortified cereals, or no complementary feeding, respectively (p=0.018).
These results underline the high frequency of malnutrition in the rural district of Kongoussi, and the great need for nutritional intervention. The prevention of growth impairment in this area could be based on home fortification of complementary foods using locally available foods; this is more sustainable. Thorough research is needed to specify and standardize the procedures of utilisation of the available foods in the prevention of growth impairment.