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Adolescent girls’ infant and young child nutrition knowledge sources differ among urban and rural samples in Bangladesh

Hoddinott, John and Karachiwalla, Naureen and Ledlie, Natasha and Roy, Shalini (2015): Adolescent girls’ infant and young child nutrition knowledge sources differ among urban and rural samples in Bangladesh.

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Background: In many low-income countries, including in Bangladesh, girls tend to marry early and have children very soon after marriage. Although conveying infant and young child nutrition (IYCN) knowledge to adolescent girls in a timely manner is important to ensure the well-being of their children, little is known about the best ways to convey these messages.

Objective: This study examines the sources from which adolescent girls derive IYCN knowledge in order to inform the design of programs that convey such information.

Methods: Information on both characteristics and IYCN knowledge of adolescent girls aged 12-18 was collected as part of a baseline survey in 2013 for the DFID Programme to Accelerate Improved Nutrition for the Extreme Poor in Bangladesh project. A total of 436 girls in rural areas and 345 girls in urban areas are present in the study. Data were analyzed using ordinary least squares (OLS) regression, fixed effects regression, and Poisson regression models.

Results: In both the urban and rural samples, girls’ schooling is positively and significantly associated with IYCN knowledge. IYCN knowledge of adolescent girls’ mothers is also associated with adolescents’ IYCN knowledge in both urban and rural samples, but the magnitude of association in the urban sample is only half that of the rural sample.

Conclusions: In Bangladesh, efforts to improve knowledge regarding IYCN is typically focused on mothers of young children. Only some of this knowledge is passed onto adolescent girls living in the same household. As other messaging efforts directed towards mothers have only small, or no association with adolescent girls’ knowledge of IYCN, improving adolescent girls’ understanding of breastfeeding, complementary feeding and more general nutrition knowledge may require information and messaging specifically directed towards them.

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