The Influence of nutritional status of women on infant mortality in Zambia

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Mutila, Chota
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The University of Zambia
Infant mortality has declined world over, Zambia inclusive. This decline has been due to various interventions such as improvements in the medical realms (e.g. development of vaccines and immunizations) and programmes such as encouraging women to attend antenatal and postnatal care, practice of exclusive breastfeeding and nutrition programmes. Infant mortality in Zambia declined from 107 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1992, to 45 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2013-14. Despite the reduction of infant mortality, there is a gap in information on the interaction of nutritional status of women (measured using BMI) and infant mortality. The 2013-14 ZDHS had a total population of 16, 411 women. A total of 13, 457 women reported to have had children in the five years preceding the survey. The study only included all women who reported to have had children aged below 1 in the 5 years preceding the survey as they were exposed to the risk of infant mortality. A total of 727 children (aged 0 to 5) were reported to have died, however, only 554 were reported as infant deaths and were included in the analysis process. Stata software version 14 was used for analysis which included: descriptive, bivariate and multivariate analysis using binary logistic regression to produce odds ratios of an infant dying before their first birthday. The findings at multivariate level (adjusted odds ratios) show that infants reported to be small in size at birth (AOR: 2.2) were more likely to die before their first birthday compared to those reported to be average. Infants born to mothers in the middle wealth index (AOR: 1.5) were more likely to die compared to those born to mothers in the poorest wealth index. HIV exposed infants (AOR: 1.4) were more like to die compared to those born to mothers whose HIV status was negative. Results also show that infants born to mothers in Copperbelt, Luapula, Northern and North-western provinces were more like to die during infancy (AOR: 2.1, 2.1, 2.4 and 2.4 respectively) compared to those in Lusaka. Furthermore, Infants born to mothers whose marital status was never married were less likely to die during infancy compared to those born to married mothers. Results also showed that having an unimproved toilet (AOR: 0.70) reduced the likelihood of infant dying before reaching age 1 when compared to those in households with no toilet facility at all. In conclusion the findings from this study show that the nutritional status of women is Zambia did not have an influence on the likelihood of a child dying before their first birthday. The study had one major limitation; the ZDHS collects current information on key variables such as nutritional status of women (Body Mass Index) that were required for analysis. For the children, detailed information is captured for most recent births. This made it a challenge to link mother’s nutritional status to the infant deaths. In addition, the cross-sectional nature of ZDHS data does not enable the determination of causality between the variables but only allows determining association.
Nutrition counselling--Zambia