Inadequate nutritional intake prior to pregnancy, during pregnancy and lactation process increases postnatal nutritional stresses and health risk of the mother resulting in a high maternal mortality. The aim of this study was to compare nutritional status and associated factors of urban and rural lactating women from Shashemene Woreda, West Arsi Zone of Oromia, Ethiopia. A community based comparative cross-sectional study was conducted among 484 randomly selected lactating mothers from six kebeles. Anthropometric measurements were taken from each mother using calibrated equipment and standardized techniques. A 24 hr dietary intake was also collected from randomly selected sub sample (n=48) of mothers. The energy and nutrient content of foods consumed by the mothers was calculated using Ethiopian food composition and world food tables. Logistic regression model, independent t-test analyses and chi-square test were used to see the mean difference in nutrient intake and nutritional status among lactating mothers. Variables with a p-value less than 0.05 on multiple variable logistic regressions were taken as significant variables. The prevalence of under-nutrition (MUAC<23 cm) among lactating mothers was higher in rural than urban communities with observed statistical significant difference (X2=12.5, p ≤ 0.001), but they are comparable in other indices. Residence of lactating women [AOR=2.54, 95% CI (1.5, 4.31)] and age of breast fed child [AOR=0.46, 95% CI (0.28, 0.78)] were significantly associated with nutritional status of lactating mothers. Having breast feeding child was significantly associated with nutritional status (BMI) of lactating mothers [AOR=0.37, 95% CI (0.17, 0.81)]. Feeding practices in urban study subjects had better feeding practices than that of rural areas (X2 = 25.0, p-value ≤ 0.001). It was not sufficient to attain their increased energy and nutrient requirements, which is worse among rural than urban study subject. Therefore, improvements of health and nutrition are recommended to lactating mother on increased food intake, proper dietary practices, and dietary diversity during lactation.
Key words: Lactating women, nutritional status, dietary diversity, feeding practice.
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