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Background; Nutrition is about eating the right food for good health, growth and development. This study was carried out to assess the nutritional knowledge beliefs and practices among pregnant women attending antenatal clinic at the Intergrated Molyko health center Buea.

Main objective; The purpose of this study was to assess the knowledge, beliefs and practices among pregnant women attending antenatal clinic at the Integrated Molyko health center Buea.

Methods; This study adopted a hospital based cross sectional design. The subjects were made of women of various ages with different socio-economic levels. A total of 100 pregnant women were selected as sample size of the study. The research questions were analysed using the sample percentage frequency counts.

Results; Overall women showed good general knowledge about nutrition and the need for increased and varied food during pregnancy, but little technical knowledge about nutrients and sources of nutrition. 87% have favorable responses regarding their beliefs about nutrition while 13% had negative responses. Lastly,75% of participants had good practices on nutrition while 25% had poor practices

Conclusion; According to results obtained majority of the participants had knowledge relating to nutrition in pregnancy. They also had good beliefs as well as good practices on nutrition in pregnancy.

1.1. Background

Nutrition is about eating a healthy and balanced diet so your body gets the nutrients that it needs. Nutritional concerns in pregnancy are gaining increasing importance as problems with obesity; poor nutrition and improper weight gain during pregnancy have been shown to result in morbidity for mother and infant during the pregnancy. Nutritional requirements increase during pregnancy can influence the growth development and health of the mother and her unborn child Lim et al (2018)

According to Zelalem et al (2017) evidence showed that nutrition education during pregnancy has significant impact on dietary habit of pregnant women and on maternal and birth outcome of pregnancy. World Health Organization recommends that health care providers need to give adequate, specific, and acceptable nutrition related advice to pregnant women during every visit of antenatal care.

Adequate and quality maternal nutrition is important for the health and reproductive performance of women as well as the health, survival and development of children. Improvements in maternal nutrition can reduce multiple risks of adverse pregnancy outcomes such as fetal growth restriction, low birth weight babies, and small for gestational age babies. It also helps prevent micronutrient deficiencies. Nutrition knowledge and attitude are important factors of dietary practices and are thus potential targets for appropriate planning of nutrition interventions for vulnerable population groups like those lactating and women that are pregnant. Nutrition education enhances nutrition knowledge, thereby influencing attitude and practices towards good nutrition. (Taddese Alemu & Sibhatu Biadgilign 2018)

The knowledge of nutrition by pregnant women is very important, as this will enable them to know the kind of food or drugs to take at any given time. The knowledge of nutrition enables pregnant women to be aware of the type of nutrition to be taken, helps pregnant women to identify and eat those foods that assist their unborn babies to be healthy (Uzor, 2006)

The practice of nutrition among pregnant women is equally important. This is because, it is one thing to have the knowledge of nutrition and or believe in intake of particular foods, it is very crucial and recommendable for pregnant mothers to form the regular habits of practicing eating good and healthy diets or food as the benefits there from are great(Barnes, 1990)

Good nutrition is a basic necessity for normal organ development and function, reproduction, growth and maintenance of optimum resistance to infection and ability to repair body damages (Banks, 1993)

Nutritional beliefs of pregnant women mean traditional beliefs regarding harmful and beneficial foods for women during pregnancy. There are also beliefs regarding the optimal amount of food to be taken during pregnancy for a successful reproductive outcome. These beliefs may or may not conform to the modern biomedical notions about the proper type and amount of food needed by pregnant women to safeguard maternal nutrition, adequate growth of foetus and safe delivery.

In Cameroon, many women who are pregnant are not exposed to knowledge, belief and practice of nutrition. This is due to the level of education among women. Most pregnant women in Cameroon are illiterate and dwell in the rural areas where information dissemination is difficult and therefore, most pregnant women in Cameroon do not practice nutrition. Not only being illiterate, they lack the where withal to purchase and at whatever diet they need due to poverty. (Abenwie et al 2016)

1.2. Statement of The Problem
Nutritional deficiency is a fatal health problem in the world, Africa and Cameroon, when there is nutritional inadequacy, the mother’s immune system weakens thereby exposing her to various illnesses, intrauterine death may occur, and pregnancy may be threatened, fetal growth restriction and the woman may lose her life.

Nutritional deficiencies cause’s fetal abnormalities plus brain damages and low birth weight. Thus health education of the women attending antenatal clinic should be emphasized as this will help prevent and reduce complications.

Globally approximately 13% of women are estimated to be undernourished, 38% suffer from anemia. Furthermore, micronutrient deficiencies particularly vitamin A, zinc, iodine and iron affect more than 2billion pregnant women worldwide with adverse effects which include premature death, poor health, blindness, stunting, reduce cognitive development and low productive capacity (WHO 2009). In our society, there is strong attachment to beliefs and cultural norms even among the educated ones.

While we agree that some of these beliefs and the practices are good, the others may not be so good. Recorded advances in medicines and medical services notwithstanding, majority of the pregnant women seem to prefer taking instructions on nutrition and antenatal healthcare from traditional birth attendants due to fear of unnecessary medical interventions and also because it’s cheap. Thus, this study seeks to assess nutritional knowledge, beliefs and practices to enable health workers to structure a balanced diet for them in line with available local foodstuffs.

1.3. Research Question
1.3.1. Main Research Question
What are the nutritional knowledge beliefs and practices among pregnant women attending antenatal clinic at the integrated Molyko Health center Buea?

1.3.2 Specific Research Question
What is the level of knowledge pregnant women attending antenatal clinic at the integrated Molyko Health center Buea have with respect to nutrition?
What are the nutritional belief systems of pregnant women attending antenatal clinic at the integrated Molyko Health centre Buea?
What are the nutritional practices of pregnant women attending antenatal clinic at the integrated Molyko Health center Buea?

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