Prevalence and factors associated with stunting and wasting among children aged 6-59 months living along Lake Victoria landing sites in Wakiso District
Background: Malnutrition is among the leading causes of death in children less than five years of age in sub-Saharan Africa. Uganda is one of the sub-Saharan African countries with the highest number of malnourished children. Two and half million people are engaged in fisheries activities at Ugandan landing sites. Of these more than 50% are less than 20 years. Landing sites have many challenges like lack of formal government or private sector services such as water and sanitation facilities, health centres, schools, roads and markets. Although a number of studies have estimated the magnitude of malnutrition in Uganda little is known about malnutrition in children in fishing communities. This study set out to determine the prevalence and factors associated with stunting and wasting among children aged 6-59 months living along Lake Victoria landing sites in Wakiso district. Methodology: A cross sectional survey was carried out on children living along the Lake Victoria landing sites in Wakiso district. The children in the household eligible of selected landing sites had their anthropometric measurements done to determine their nutritional status. Socio-demographic data was also extracted from selected households using a questionnaire. The prevalence of malnutrition was determined by calculating the proportion of children with stunting and wasting. Logistic regression models were used to determine the factors associated with stunting and wasting. Results: A total of 634 children were enrolled into the study. The prevalence of stunting was at 28.0 % (95% C.I 24.7 - 31.6) while that of wasting was 3.2% (95% C.I 2.10 - 4.90). Of these moderate stunting and wasting accounted for 17.6% (95% C.I 14.90-20.70) and 2.0 % (95% C.I 1.20-3.40) respectively. Boys 30.1% (25.50-35.10) were slightly more stunted than girls where as girls were slightly more wasted than the boys3.4 %( 95% C.I 1.80 – 6.10). Factors associated with stunting were use of unprotected water source (OR 1.87, 95% C.I 1.19-2.96 P < 0.001) or duration of breastfeeding of less than 6 month (0R 2.61 95%C.I 1.02-6.68 P-value 0.05). On the other hand loss of appetite (OR 4.46, 95% C.I 1.04-19.10 P -value 0.04) or birth order above 4(OR 5.31, 95% C.I 1.32-21.39 P=0.02) were significantly associated with wasting. Conclusion: Prevalence of stunting and wasting in the landing sites were lower than previously reported. A child who breastfed for less than 6 months and consumed water from unprotected water source was associated with stunting. Child’s birth order above 4 and loss of appetite were associated with wasting. Recommendation: There is need to design interventions to reduce rates of malnutrition in landing sites. Such interventions should include provision of safe drinking water; prioritize mothers with more than 3 children, promotion of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and recognition of early signs of severe malnutrition like loss of appetite. There is need to carry out further studies around in fishing communities to determine the causes of wasting and stunting.