Home visits by neighborhood Mentor Mothers provide timely recovery from childhood malnutrition in South Africa: Results from a randomized controlled trial

Philani Child Health and Nutrition Project, Khayelitsha, PO Box 40188, Elonwabeni, Cape Town 7791, South Africa.
Nutrition Journal (Impact Factor: 2.6). 11/2010; 9(1):56. DOI: 10.1186/1475-2891-9-56
Source: PubMed


Child and infant malnourishment is a significant and growing problem in the developing world. Malnourished children are at high risk for negative health outcomes over their lifespans. Philani, a paraprofessional home visiting program, was developed to improve childhood nourishment. The objective of this study is to evaluate whether the Philani program can rehabilitate malnourished children in a timely manner.
Mentor Mothers were trained to conduct home visits. Mentor Mothers went from house to house in assigned neighborhoods, weighed children age 5 and younger, and recruited mother-child dyads where there was an underweight child. Participating dyads were assigned in a 2:1 random sequence to the Philani intervention condition (n = 536) or a control condition (n = 252). Mentor Mothers visited dyads in the intervention condition for one year, supporting mothers' problem-solving around nutrition. All children were weighed by Mentor Mothers at baseline and three, six, nine and twelve month follow-ups.
By three months, children in the intervention condition were five times more likely to rehabilitate (reach a healthy weight for their ages) than children in the control condition. Throughout the course of the study, 43% (n = 233 of 536) of children in the intervention condition were rehabilitated while 31% (n = 78 of 252) of children in the control condition were rehabilitated.
Paraprofessional Mentor Mothers are an effective strategy for delivering home visiting programs by providing the knowledge and support necessary to change the behavior of families at risk.

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Available from: Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus, Sep 15, 2015
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    • "Infant feeding and nutrition has been identified as a major concern for women living in RLS, which suggests that women would be receptive to such education programmes.38 It is particularly helpful if the female educator is a positive role model, whose own children are thriving despite also living in poor conditions, as this has a significant and lasting effect on the rates of recovery from malnutrition in both rural and urban settings in developing countries around the world, including South Africa, Bangladesh and Haiti.39 40 "
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