A community-based longitudinal study was conducted in the Manya Krobo District of the Eastern Region of Ghana with the objective of assessing how caregiving practices influence nutritional status of young children in Ghana. The study subjects were one hundred mothers with infants between the ages of 6 and 12 months. Each child was visited at home monthly for a period of six months. On each visit, information was collected on caregiver household and personal hygiene, child's immunization status, child's dietary diversity, caregiver responsiveness during feeding, caregiver hygienic practices related to feeding and child's weight and length. At the end of the study, summary scores were generated for each variable and quality of care practice determined based on their distribution. Classification of child nutritional status was based on z-scores for both weight-for-age and length-for-age. The results revealed that caregivers who exhibited better quality of care practice had well-nourished children. Such caregivers were more likely to practice good household and personal hygiene than those of poorly nourished children (97.1% vs 31.8%, p<0.001). They were also more likely to complete their children's immunization schedules (88.2% vs 62.2%, p< 0.001), provide good quality diets from highly diversified sources (79% vs 23%, p<0.001), exhibit high responsiveness during feeding (100% vs 22.7%, p<0.001) and feed under hygienic conditions (100% vs 22.7%, p<0.001). Based on the findings it was concluded that good caregiving practices are associated with improved child nutritional status.
Keywords: care indicators; child nutritional status; ghana; quality of care; young children.