MATERNAL PERCEPTION OF GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS ARISING FROM COMPLEMENTARY FEEDING OF CHILDREN IN OWERRI WEST LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF IMO STATE, NIGERIA.
The study was conducted to ascertain the maternal perception of gastrointestinal problems arising from complementary feeding of children in Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo State, Nigeria. Nine specific objectives were formulated with nine corresponding research questions and four null-hypotheses were also postulated to guide the study. The descriptive survey research design was used for the study. The population for the study was four thousand four hundred and ninety three mothers as at the month of June, 2012 attending child welfare clinics in the 52 health facilities in Owerri West L.G.A. The sample for the study consisted of four hundred and forty nine mothers. A researcher designed questionnaire was the instrument used for data collection. The instrument was validated by five experts from the Department of Health and Physical Education, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Test-re-test method using Cronbach Alpha statistic was utilized to establish the internal consistency of the instrument. The instrument yielded a reliability index of .66. Mean and standard deviation were utilized in answering the research questions. Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and t-Test statistic was used in testing of the hypotheses. The results of the study showed that: perception of mothers on types of gastrointestinal problems was positive, the perception of mothers on types of complementary foods was positive. Maternal perception on causes of gastrointestinal problems was positive. The respondents’ perception on preventive measures against gastrointestinal problems in children was positive. The perception of mothers’ on the age of introduction of complementary feeding was negative. Level of education influenced mothers’ perception of gastrointestinal problems due to complementary feeding of children. The variable of age did not influence maternal perception of gastrointestinal problems. The mothers of all the various occupation have a positive perception of gastrointestinal problems except mothers who are artisans. Level of education exerted significant influence on the maternal perception of gastrointestinal problems due to complementary feeding of children. The maternal perception of gastrointestinal problems due to complementary feeding of children was not dependent on their location of either Rural or Urban areas. The varying occupations of the mothers in Owerri West LGA did not influence their perception of gastrointestinal problems arising from complementary feeding of children. Based on the findings, recommendations were made among which are the ideal age of introduction of complementary feeding should be clearly made known to all women at the child welfare clinics as soon as they become pregnant and begin attending antenatal clinic and Mothers and other care givers who prepare complementary foods for babies should observe a high level of hygienic practices while preparing these foods and at all times.