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Pakistan Journal of Nutrition
  Year: 2019 | Volume: 18 | Issue: 3 | Page No.: 216-225
DOI: 10.3923/pjn.2019.216.225
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Infant and Young Child Complementary Feeding in Saudi Arabia: Timely Introduction, Frequency and Diversity
Adam E. Ahmed and Osama A. Salih

Background and Objective: Appropriate feeding practice reduces the risk of undernutrition, sickness and mortality rates among infants and young children less than 24 months of age. The objective of this study was to assess the timely introduction, frequency and diversity of complementary feedings given to infants 0-24 months of age in Saudi Arabia. To achieve this objective, there is a need to compute and assess the introduction of complementary feedings, minimum dietary diversity (MDD), minimum meal frequency (MMF) and the minimum acceptable diet (MAD) indicators. Materials and Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study of 1,700 infant mothers’ ages 19-49 years with infants 0-24 months of age was conducted in Saudi Arabia. Multistage random sampling was used, five regions were selected (Northern, Southern, Middle, Eastern and Western) and from each region 33 primary health care centers were selected from both urban (80%) and rural (20%) sites. From each center, 9-16 respondents were randomly selected. Structured interviewer administered questionnaire was used. Results: The results revealed that in Saudi Arabia, the mean number of the food group consumed is amounted to 3.85 times, which is below the threshold for MDD. The top four food groups consumed were dairy products (95%), grains (83%), flesh foods (65%) and vitamin-A-rich fruits and vegetables (53%). The least consumed food groups were other fruits and vegetables, eggs and legumes and nuts. The majority (83%) of infants were introduced to complementary feeding under six months of age, while, merely 13% of infants were optimally introduced to complementary feedings. One in three Saudi infants ages 6-23 months did not consume from four food groups or more and is at risk of undernutrition, including micronutrient deficiencies. Nearly 42% of children ages 6-23 months were not being fed the minimum number of meals per day during this critical period of growth and development. The prevalence of the MAD was merely 35%, indicating that 65% of the Saudi’s infants and children were deprived from being fed frequently throughout the day and their meals weren’t nutrient-dense or coming from diversified food groups. Early introduction, less frequent and diversified infants’ complementary feedings were the major determinants of optimal complementary feeding practices in KSA. Conclusion: The present study estimates the infant and child complementary feeding indicators, according to World Health Organization (WHO) standardized methodology and a gap existing between the prevailing and recommended levels, thus the formulation and implementation of infant and young child feeding strategy is highly recommended, so as to enhance the appropriateness of complementary feedings practices in Saudi Arabia.
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How to cite this article:

Adam E. Ahmed and Osama A. Salih, 2019. Infant and Young Child Complementary Feeding in Saudi Arabia: Timely Introduction, Frequency and Diversity. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition, 18: 216-225.

DOI: 10.3923/pjn.2019.216.225








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