Objective: Poor mental health may diminish a mother's capacity to adequately care for her child, resulting in a negative impact on the child’s nutrition. This study aims to determine the association between maternal mental health and child nutritional status in a poor urban population in Bangladesh.
Methods: We carried out a cross-sectional study among 264 mother-child pairs in an urban slum area of Bangladesh. The Self-Reporting Questionnaire-20 (SRQ-20) was used to assess maternal mental health. An SRQ-20 score ≥7 was considered a common mental disorder (CMD). Anthropometric measurements were performed to assess child nutritional status.
Results: The prevalence of maternal CMD was 46.2%. Maternal CMD was associated with poorer child feeding practice (p<0.001), poorer hygiene practice (p<0.001), poorer preventive care service use (p=0.016) and suffering from diarrheal disease (p=0.049). The prevalence of stunting, wasting and underweight was 44.3%, 18.2% and 33.7%, respectively. Poorer child feeding practice was associated with wasting (p=0.004) and underweight (p<0.001) but not with stunting. Poorer hygiene practice and suffering from diarrheal disease were associated with stunting and underweight but not with wasting. In multivariate analysis, maternal CMD was associated with child wasting (AOR=2.25, 95% CI=1.15-4.43). Association between maternal CMD and child underweight found in bivariate analysis was attenuated and no longer statistically significant after multivariate analysis (AOR=1.77, 95% CI=0.94-3.33). No statistically significant association was observed between maternal CMD and stunting in this study (AOR=1.46, 95% CI=0.84-2.54).
Conclusions: Maternal mental health affects child nutritional status through child feeding practice, hygiene practice and preventive care use. Interventions to address the mental health of mothers in child nutrition programs might contribute to improving child nutritional status.