MOTHERS KNOWLEDGE ON THE COMPLICATIONS OF POOR WEANING PROCESS OF CHILDREN AT THE MUEA COMMUNITY
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Weaning is an entire process during which an infant change from full dependence on breast milk to independence from it. This period which is a critical period, if not properly done has the following consequences on children: diarrhea and allergic diseases, underfeeding, malnutrition, and even complications that lead to infant death. This study was carried out in Muea from the month of May to July 2021.
The specific objectives were to assess mother’s knowledge on the weaning in the Muea community, to determine the impacts of inadequate weaning on the nutritional status of children in the Muea community. This was a cross-sectional descriptive-based study, which took into consideration 50 mothers in the community.
A convenient sampling method was used and data was collected using a well-structured questionnaire based on the specific objectives. The results of this study revealed that the majority (68%) of the mothers knew the definition of weaning and could identify the types of foods used to begin weaning, few of them (14%) could identify the importance of weaning.
It was also realized that many mothers (88%) faced different challenges during this period, and few mothers (concerning sensitization of mothers during home visits in the community on the importance of weaning as well as some advice on the challenges faced by mothers and possible solutions was to educate mothers on the different consequences of weaning practices on children. 10%) could identify the consequences of poor weaning.
Therefore, the key recommendation concerning sensitization of mothers during home visits in the community on the importance of weaning as well as some advice on the challenges faced by mothers and possible solutions was to educate mothers on the different consequences of inadequate weaning process on children.
Breastfeeding is one of the oldest and healthiest practices in the world but as the world changes; women sometimes need information and support to keep breastfeeding their babies (August et al. 2010). Today, the World Health Organization (2009) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months postpartum and the use of breast milk as a complementary form of feeding for up to 2 years in order to confer optimal health benefits to the mother and child effectively (Jenifer et al., 2012).
However, a good mental, emotional and physical collaboration between the mother and her newborn is needed for the desired outcome in the practice of exclusive breastfeeding (Khreshe, 2011). Deciding how an infant will be fed is a complex decision involving various social, psychological, emotional, and environmental factors (Arora et al., 2000).
Good nutrition is fundamental to a child’s health but its importance during the early years increases manifold as the weight gain during the first year is dramatic, from about 3kg at birth to 10kg at the age of one year. Along with the physical growth, there are qualitative changes in a child’s behavior and social relationship that can be affected by the nutritional status of the child.
According to Melvin, (2008), nutrition is the sum total of the processes involved in the intake and utilization of food substances by living’ organisms including ingestion, digestion, absorption, transport, and metabolism of nutrients found in food. Adequate nutrition during early childhood is fundamental to the development of each child’s full potential. It has been established that the period from birth to two years of age is a” critical window” for the promotion of optimal growth, health, and overall survival of children (Ali et al., 2006).
Good food is important for good health. Children who are well fed during the first two years of life are more likely to stay healthy for the rest of their childhood. (Ashworth, 2002). As infants reach the age of five to six months, they begin to need more foods than mother’s milk can provide. In order to fulfill the nutritional requirements of the rapidly growing child, the addition of semi-solid and solid foods is essential for breast milk for formula-fed babies.
WHO now recommends the introduction of complementary foods around the six months of life, instead of between the fourth and sixth months as previously recommended (Infant and young child nutrition,2001).
During the weaning process, the quantity, type, and choice of food items may not be ideal for the adequate growth of the child (Schamin,2005), as a weaned child is more susceptible to infections because of the loss of anti-infective and protective properties of human milk thus exposing infants to increased infections particularly diarrhea-related diseases. It may also lead to malnutrition, or infant nutrition and adversely affect the growth rates as well as to anemia
The introduction to semi-solid feeding and the gradual replacement of milk by solid food as the main source of nutrition is the process known as weaning. In its recent publications the WHO uses the term weaning in a more limited sense to indicate complete cessation of breastfeeding (WHO, 2002).
The term “wean” comes from an ancient phrase that means “To accustom”. So weaning refers to the entire process during which the infant changes from full dependence on breast milk to complete independence from it. Weaning may also mean the complete cessation of breastfeeding (Abrupt or final wean) (Health Canada, 2012).
The term “weaning” has been traditionally described as withdrawal from breastfeeding. Example when breastfeeding is gradually being replaced by fresh or modified animal milk, or by semi-solid foods. It is a transitional change from liquid to a semi-solid diet. The feeding behavior changes from sucking to chewing and biting and the obligatory introduction with the mother or other caretaker changes to independent feeling (Parkinson, 2003).
Generally, infants were breastfed longer in ancient times than in present today (Piovanetti, 2001). Aristotle stated that breastfeeding should continue for 12 to 18 months. World health organization (WHO), UNICEF, and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants should be breastfed for the first six months of life, with weaning to solid food thereafter till (AAP, 2012; kramer, 2004; UNICEF, 2005).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Weaning is an entire process during which an infant change from full dependence on breast milk to independence from it. This period which is a critical one, if not properly done has the following consequences on children: diarrhea and allergic diseases, underfeeding, anemia, malnutrition, and even complications that may lead to infant death. This may be due to inadequate nutrition during the weaning process by mothers.
The researcher during her internship at the regional hospital withness more than 5 cases of children with complications resulting from poor weaning from the muea community. Therefore, the researcher seeks to study or find the adequacy of the weaning process of children at the Muea community by their mothers because the problem is gradually affecting children and their parents and if not properly handled, it may result in death.
1.3 Research Questions
- What knowledge do mothers have on the weaning process in Muea Community?
- What are the consequences of inadequate weaning on the nutritional status of children in the Muea Community?
- What are the challenges faced by mothers in Muea community when weaning their babies?
To investigate mothers knowledge on the consequences of inadequate weaning of children at the Muea . Community
1.4.2 Specific Objectives
- To assess mother’s knowledge on the weaning process in the Muea Health Area
- To identify challenges faced by mothers during weaning in the Muea Heath Area
- To find out the consequences of inadequate weaning on the nutritional status of infants in the Muea community from the mothers.