Purpose: Malnutrition is a prominent public health problem of children in poor areas of rural China, especially during 6 to 24 months when the complementary food is introduced and the prevalence of malnutrition increased significantly. This study attempts to understand the children's nutritional status and caretaker's knowledge and practices on feeding in Huize County in Yunnan Province, Pan County in Guizhou Province and Luonan County in Shaanxi Province.
Methods: Household survey tool was used according to international standards in coordination with WHO and UNICEF. Totally, 1887 infant and young children aged from 0-36 months were involved in this study , with average 11.2±7.5 month of age. 1039 (55.1%) of total surveyed children were boys and 848 (44.9%) were girls. All parents (most mothers) of these children were interviewed about their knowledge and practice on child feeding with standard forms at the same time.
Results: The prevalence of underweight and stunting are 15.3% and 20.0%, which are higher than the national reported 8.6% and 13.1% by the China Food and Nutrition Surveillance System in 2005. The prevalence of anemia among our surveyed children was 25.3 % (hb<110g/l),which was higher than the national reported 21.9% by the China Food and Nutrition Surveillance System in 2005.
Totally, 90.7% of children have ever been breastfed. The proportion of mothers who initiated breastfeeding within 1 hour after birth was 5.2%°£The proportion of infants exclusively breastfed to 6 months was 35.1% and Proportion of infants 6-9 months who received breastfeeding and complementary feeding was 56.0%.
Proportion of mothers knowing the duration of exclusive breastfeeding (6 months) is 35.7%. Proportion of mothers knowing the time to initiate complementary feeding (6-9 months age) is 46.7%. Proportion of mothers knowing continue breastfeeding (24 months or beyond) is 5.3%. 73.3% and 79.7% mothers reported to receive breastfeeding counseling during and after pregnancy, mostly in Health facilities at different levels..
Conclusion: Children's nutritional status in the three counties is much lower than the national average level and need to be improved. Caretaker's knowledge and practices on feeding need to be updated and Health education about infant and young child feeding should be conducted in these areas. Training courses on infant and young children feeding for health workers need to be strengthened on counseling of caretakers, especially for mothers.
Corresponding author: Dai Yaohua, Director of WHO Collaborating Center for Child Health, professor of Capital Institute of Pediatrics, P.R China.