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Mothers' education but not fathers' education, household assets or land ownership is the best predictor of child health inequalities in rural Uganda

DOI: 10.1186/1475-9276-3-9

Keywords: Child health, inequalities, stunting, socio-economic, targeting, mother education, Uganda

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Abstract:

To examine the association of four socio-economic indicators namely: mothers' education, fathers' education, household asset index, and land ownership with growth stunting, which is used as a proxy for health and nutrition inequalities among infants and young children.This was a cross-sectional survey conducted in the rural district of Hoima, Uganda. Two-stage cluster sampling design was used to obtain 720 child/mother pairs. Information on indicators of household socio-economic status and child anthropometry was gathered by administering a structured questionnaire to mothers in their home settings. Regression modelling was used to determine the association of socio-economic indicators with stunting.One hundred seventy two (25%) of the studied children were stunted, of which 105 (61%) were boys (p < 0.001). Bivariate analysis indicated a higher prevalence of stunting among children of: non-educated mothers compared to mothers educated above primary school (odds ratio (OR) 2.5, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.4–4.4); non-educated fathers compared to fathers educated above secondary school (OR 1.7, 95% CI 0.8–3.5); households belonging in the "poorest" quintile for the asset index compared to the "least poor" quintile (OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.2–3.7); Land ownership exhibited no differentials with stunting. Simultaneously adjusting all socio-economic indicators in conditional regression analysis left mothers' education as the only independent predictor of stunting with children of non-educated mothers significantly more likely to be stunted compared to those of mothers educated above primary school (OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.1–3.9). More boys than girls were significantly stunted in poorer than wealthier socio-economic strata.Of four socio-economic indicators, mothers' education is the best predictor for health and nutrition inequalities among infants and young children in rural Uganda. This suggests a need for appropriate formal education of the girl child aimed at promoting child hea

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