Association between depression in carers and malnutrition in children aged 6 months to 5 years
Ganiyu, Adewale B.
Firth, Jachauline A.
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Background: Childhood malnutrition is an important risk factor for child mortality and underlies close to 50% of child deaths worldwide. Previous studies have found an association between maternal depression and child malnutrition, but it is not known whether this association exists in Botswana. In addition, previous studies excluded non-maternal primary caregivers (PCGs). It is unclear whether the association between primary caregiver depression and child malnutrition remains when non-maternal PCGs are included. Aim: The aim of this study was to determine if there is an association between PCG depression and malnutrition in children aged between 6 months and 5 years in Mahalapye, Botswana. Setting: The study was conducted in the child welfare clinics of Xhosa and Airstrip clinics, two primary health care facilities in Mahalapye, Botswana. Methods: This was a case control study. Cases were malnourished children aged between 6 months and 5 years, and controls were non-malnourished children matched for age and gender. The outcome of interest was depression in the PCGs of the cases and controls, which was assessed using the Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ 9), a depression screening tool. Results: From a sample of 171 children, 84 of whom were malnourished, we found that the malnourished children were significantly more likely to have depressed PCGs (odds ratio = 4.33; 95 % CI: 1.89, 9.89) than non-malnourished children in the 6-month to 5-year age group; the PCGs of malnourished children also had lower educational status. Conclusion: This study found a significant association between PCG depression and child malnutrition.