Revista de Saúde Pública
On-line version ISSN 1518-8787Print version ISSN 0034-8910
CARVALHAES, Maria Antonieta de BL and BENICIO, Maria Helena D'Aquino. Mother's ability of childcare and children malnutrition. Rev. Saúde Pública [online]. 2002, vol.36, n.2, pp.188-197. ISSN 1518-8787. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0034-89102002000200011.
OBJECTIVES: To identify and measure the risk of malnutrition associated to determining indicators of mother's ability of childcare: familial structure, education level, work, maternal physical and mental health. METHODS: A case-control study was performed. Cases (101 children whose weight/age was below 5th percentile) and controls (200 children whose weight/age was above 25th percentile) were selected using anthropometric surveys during three vaccination campaigns in 1996 and 1997. Data was collected by interviewing the children's mothers at home. To detect the net effect of each factor studied, multivariate hierarchical analyses were carried out. The factors investigated and possible control variables were grouped in blocks, arranged according to order they affected the child's nutritional status. In order to identify the control variables a p<0.20 (univariate analyses) was assumed and to identify associations between a given factor and malnutrition a p<0.05 was assumed. RESULTS: Malnutrition risk factors identified are: (a) adverse familial structure, indicated by single parenting (OR=2.2; 95%CI, 1.1-4.5); (b) hospitalization of the mother during pregnancy (OR=3.5; 95%CI, 1.6-7.7); (c) mother's poor mental health, determined by the presence of 3 to 4 symptoms of depression included in the SRQ-20 (OR=3.1; 95%CI, 0.9-10.3); and (d) family stress factors, suggestive signs of alcoholism in at least one family member (OR=2.1; 95%CI, 1.2-3.9). In addition to these factors, child's age at the time the mother resumed/started working was also independently associated to malnutrition. However, it produced mixed effects: for children aged 4 to 12 months, the mothers' resuming work resulted in a protection factor whereas their resuming later tended to increase the risk of malnutrition. CONCLUSIONS: It was evidenced that the factors that define the mother's ability of child care affect the child's nutritional status.
Keywords : Protein-energy malnutrition; Infant care; Nutritional status; Mental health; Infant nutrition; Maternal behavior; Women, working; Socioeconomic factors; Educational status; Family.