Relationship between child feeding practices and malnutrition in 7 remote and poor counties, P R China.Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2012; 21(2):234-40AP
The World Health Organization reported that inappropriate feeding in children is responsible for one-third of the cases of malnutrition. This cross-sectional study aimed to determine the prevalence of malnutrition and identify the relationship between feeding practices and malnutrition in children below 5 years, in 7 remote and poor counties of China. A sample of 2201 children and 1978 caregivers were obtained with multistage cluster random sampling. A survey about feeding practices among the caregivers was implemented using a structured questionnaire, and the health status of children was evaluated using anthropometric measurements. We found 5 problems: first, high prevalence of stunting, underweight and wasting in children below 5 years old (19.3%, 13.1% and 5.5%); second, short duration of breastfeeding for children below 36 months; third, low prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding among children below 6 months of age and continued breastfeeding to 1 year (17.5% and 32.2%). Fourth, although most of the infants (81.1%) between 6 and 8 months of age were given complementary foods, some of the 6- to 8-month-old infants did not receive any complementary foods. Last, a higher prevalence of stunting among Chinese children who had never been breastfed, who had been breastfed for less than 1 year, or had been fed with semi-solid foods of poor quality. Therefore, we suggest that more programs to increase caregivers' feeding knowledge and practices be conducted, to improve the health of children in remote and poor areas in China.