Factors associated with stunting in Dodoma region, Tanzania
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Child undernutrition is a major public health concern, claiming the lives of numerous children below five years of age in the developing world. The objective of this study was to assess the factors associated with stunting of children of age 6 – 23 months in Dodoma Municipality and Chamwino District in Dodoma region. Dodoma region located in the central zone of Tanzania was chosen for this study because of its high prevalence (56%) of stunting among children under five years of age. A systematic random sampling technique was used to choose wards, villages, and households that had children aged 6 - 23 months, resulting in 394 households participating in this cross-sectional study. A standardized questionnaire was used to collect socio-demographic information and infant feeding practices. Anthropometric measurements were taken as per WHO standard procedures. A repeated 24-hour dietary recall was used to assess food intake among the study population. Multivariate logistic regression using backward stepwise selection method was used to obtain independent factors of stunting. The overall prevalence of stunting was 40.4% (95% CI; 29.8; 50.9), Chamwino District had a higher prevalence of stunting (44.3%) compared to Dodoma municipality (26.3%). Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that, age of introduction of complementary food [AOR = 13.3; (95% CI: 2.6 – 67.6)], maternal education [AOR = 5.5; (95% CI: 1.0 – 9.8)], residence in Chamwino District [AOR = 3.2; (95% CI: 1.3 – 5.9)] were factors associated with stunting. About half of the study population (49%) was introduced to complementary foods early, the median age was four months instead of 6 months as recommended by WHO. Infant’s diet was mainly cereal-based, other foods such as animal food source, fruits, and dairy products were consumed by 18%, 11% and 7.1% of children respectively. The dietary pattern of infants was not diversified as 47.7% of infants scored 1 to 3 points out of 12 points categorized as low dietary diversity. Failure to attain normal growth pattern is the most prevalent form of undernutrition in childhood. Associated factors are many, diverse and interrelated. The present study identified maternal education, early introduction of complementary foods and being a resident of Chamwino District as factors to be associated with stunting. Prioritization of identified factors serves as a highlight for better planning of nutrition intervention programs that intend to promote child growth.