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Infant and Young Child Feeding Practices and Nutritional Status in Two Health Zones of South Kivu, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo: A Community-Based Study

Author(s): Richard Mbusa Kambale, Gaylord Amani Ngaboyeka, Joe Bwija Kasengi, Sarah Niyitegeka, Boss Rutakaza Cinkenye, Armand Baruti, Kizito Chentwali Mutuga, Dimitri Van der Linden

Background: In DRC, childhood undernutrition remains a serious public health concern. Internationally recommended infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices may improve child nutritional status. This study aimed to describe IYCF practices, factors associated with inappropriate complementary feeding, and infant’s nutritional status.

Methods: A community-based cross-sectional study including 1,009 mother-infant pair was conducted in August 2019 in 32 health areas (16 in rural health zone and 16 in urban one) of South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), among mothers who had infants under 24 months of age. Infant’s nutritional status was assessed using WHO Anthro plus software. To describe IYCF practices, we used the indicators recommended by the WHO. To study the factors associated with inappropriate complementary feeding practices, we performed univariable and multiple logistic regression analyzes. The data was analyzed in SPSS version 25.

Results: The prevalence of early initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age was 73.7% and 42.2% respectively. Of the 746 infants aged 6–23.9 months, 246 (32.3%) received appropriate complementary feeding. Of the 997 infants who had valid anthropometric parameters, 416 (41.7%) were well-nourished, 374 (37.5%) were undernourished and 207 (20.8%) were overweight. Multivariable logistic regression analysis revealed that residence in rural area [Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR): 2.38 (95% Confidence Interval (CI): 1.49, 3.78)], non-attendance at postnatal care (AOR 1.63; 95% CI 1.12, 2.96), low household socioeconomic (AOR 1.72; 95% CI 1.14, 2.59) and low maternal education (AOR 1.83; 95% CI 1.20, 2.77) were factors associated with inappropriate complementary feeding. Mothers with inappropriate complementary feeding practices were 6.88 times more likely to have undernourished infants than their counterparts (AOR 6.88; 95% CI 1.24, 18.37).

Conclusion: Findings from this study provide strong evidence, both of association between inappropriate complementary feeding and undernutrition, and of the double burden of malnutrition with the co-existence of under- and overnutrition in the infant population in South Kivu. Interventions should focus on both preventing undernutrition and overweight to promote child well-being.

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