Feeding Practices of Children Aged 0-59 Months Accompanying Incarcerated Mothers in Selected Women’s Prisons in Kenya

Mary N. Makau*, Sophie Ochola, Dorcus Mbithe
Department of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics, Kenyatta University, P.O BOX 43844 00100, Nairobi, Kenya

© Makau et al.; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics, Kenyatta University, P.O BOX 43844 00100, Nairobi, Kenya; E-mails:;


Infant and young child feeding practices have substantial consequences for the growth, development, and survival of children. Children should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life and thereafter continue to breastfeed for 2 years or longer. Children are vulnerable to malnutrition thus nutrition and health status of the confined children is of interest. The purpose of this study was to establish feeding practices of children 0-59 months incarcerated with their mothers in selected women’s prisons in Kenya. A cross-sectional analytical study was conducted on an exhaustive sample of 202 children and 193 mothers, drawn from a sample of eight out of the 35 women prisons in Kenya. Data collection tools included: a structured researcher-administered questionnaire for mothers and children. Exclusive breastfeeding rate was 69.4%; continued breastfeeding at 1 and 2 years year (88.5%; 52.2%). The mean Dietary Diversity Score (DDS) was 3.52 ± 1.04 foods groups out of 7 groups with 53.3% having attained the minimum DDS and 86.5% of breastfed children having attained the minimum frequency meal consumption. About half of the children (48.6%) attained the minimum acceptable diet. In terms of nutritional status, 21.4% of the children were stunted, 3.8% wasted and 7.5% were underweight. Dietary practices were associated with underweight; not attaining the minimum dietary diversity and minimum acceptable diet was associated with underweight (p = 0.012; p = 0.014); Illness 2 weeks prior to the study was correlated with underweight (p=0.012). Feeding practices significantly influenced nutritional status among children accompanying incarcerated mothers in prisons in Kenya.

Keywords: Dietary practices, Nutritional status, Incarcerated children, Morbidity.