Infant and Young Child Nutrition to Prevent Stunting

Although progress has been made in reducing acute malnutrition, stunting has remained stagnant in many parts of the world. MCHIP addressed stunting through innovative Infant and Young Child Nutrition (IYCN) approaches and operations research to inform on integrated nutrition programming to prevent stunting and to reduce all forms of malnutrition.

MCHIP conducted operations research to understand factors associated with stunting and to develop innovative programmatic IYCN approaches to address stunting in the Middle East. In Egypt, MCHIP led a study examining factors associated with the rise in stunting levels in Lower Egypt in comparison to Upper Egypt. This mixed-methods, four-part study used both qualitative and quantitative data collection methodologies to “tell the story” of stunting.

To understand barriers and facilitating factors to optimal infant and young child feeding, MCHIP utilized Trials for Improved Practice (TIPs) to explore the reasons behind current and past infant and young child feeding practices in conjunction with quantitative dietary data from 24 hour recall and food frequency. In-depth interviews with fathers, grandmothers and health providers examined the roles of influential members of the household and community in care and feeding practices.

In addition, as part of the study, MCHIP conducted a longitudinal follow-up of children from the SMART/MCHIP Egypt project to understand the relationship between growth, illnesses and infant feeding in the first of year of life. (To learn more, click here to read a description of the study.)

Eight resources (see links below) from operations research highlight IYCF practices, maternal dietary practices, and the roles of health providers, grandmothers, and fathers on IYCF in Egypt. The reports and briefs elucidate the problem of junk food consumption and provide a practical guidance to reduce consumption of foods of low nutritive value and increase intake of locally available nutritive foods in children less than two years of age. Updated guidance for health providers and community workers on how to counsel mothers and their families on IYCF using tailored, culturally appropriate solutions is also included.

In Yemen, MCHIP developed evidence-based information for designing interventions to improve maternal, infant and young child nutrition/family planning (MIYCN-FP) practices using TIPs. This information was used to develop a MIYCN-FP counseling package for the facility and community levels to improve nutrition and FP practices, prevent stunting, and increase uptake of FP and optimal birth spacing.