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Does maternal autonomy influence feeding practices and infant growth in rural India?

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  • Shroff, Monal R.
  • Griffiths, Paula L.
  • Suchindran, Chirayath
  • Nagalla, Balakrishna
  • Vazir, Shahnaz
  • Bentley, Margaret E.

Abstract

The high prevalence of child under-nutrition remains a profound challenge in the developing world. Maternal autonomy was examined as a determinant of breast feeding and infant growth in children 3-5 months of age. Cross-sectional baseline data on 600 mother-infant pairs were collected in 60 villages in rural Andhra Pradesh, India. The mothers were enrolled in a longitudinal randomized behavioral intervention trial. In addition to anthropometric and demographic measures, an autonomy questionnaire was administered to measure different dimensions of autonomy (e.g. decision-making, freedom of movement, financial autonomy, and acceptance of domestic violence). We conducted confirmatory factor analysis on maternal autonomy items and regression analyses on infant breast feeding and growth after adjusting for socioeconomic and demographic variables, and accounting for infant birth weight, infant morbidity, and maternal nutritional status. Results indicated that mothers with higher financial autonomy were more likely to breastfeed 3-5 month old infants. Mothers with higher participation in decision-making in households had infants that were less underweight and less wasted. These results suggest that improving maternal financial and decision-making autonomy could have a positive impact on infant feeding and growth outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Shroff, Monal R. & Griffiths, Paula L. & Suchindran, Chirayath & Nagalla, Balakrishna & Vazir, Shahnaz & Bentley, Margaret E., 2011. "Does maternal autonomy influence feeding practices and infant growth in rural India?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 447-455, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:73:y:2011:i:3:p:447-455
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    Cited by:

    1. Vikram, Kriti & Vanneman, Reeve & Desai, Sonalde, 2012. "Linkages between maternal education and childhood immunization in India," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 331-339.
    2. Yount, Kathryn M. & Dijkerman, Sally & Zureick-Brown, Sarah & VanderEnde, Kristin E., 2014. "Women's empowerment and generalized anxiety in Minya, Egypt," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 185-193.
    3. Arulampalam, Wiji, 2016. "Does greater autonomy among women provide the key to better child nutrition?," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1117, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    4. Rae Lesser Blumberg & Kara Dewhurst & Soham G. Sen, 2013. "Gender-inclusive Nutrition Activities in South Asia : Volume 2. Lessons from Global Experiences," World Bank Other Operational Studies 15980, The World Bank.
    5. Malapit, Hazel J. & Sraboni, Esha & Quisumbing, Agnes R. & Ahmed, Akhter U., 2015. "Gender empowerment gaps in agriculture and children’s well-being in Bangladesh:," IFPRI discussion papers 1470, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    6. repec:eee:cysrev:v:76:y:2017:i:c:p:203-212 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Mustafa Özer & Jan Fidrmuc & Mehmet Ali Eryurt, 2017. "Does Maternal Education Affect Childhood Immunization Rates? Evidence from Turkey," CESifo Working Paper Series 6439, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. Biswajit Mandal, 2015. "Demand for maternal health inputs in West Bengal-Inference from NFHS 3 in India," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 35(4), pages 2685-2700.
    9. Luciana Luz & Victor Agadjanian, 2015. "Women’s decision-making autonomy and children’s schooling in rural Mozambique," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 32(25), pages 775-796, March.
    10. Mandal, Biswajit, 2015. "Demand for Maternal health inputs in West Bengal-Inference from NFHS 3," MPRA Paper 68224, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Pratley, Pierre, 2016. "Associations between quantitative measures of women's empowerment and access to care and health status for mothers and their children: A systematic review of evidence from the developing world," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 119-131.
    12. Kathryn M. Yount & Kristin E. VanderEnde & Sylvie Dodell & Yuk Fai Cheong, 2016. "Measurement of Women’s Agency in Egypt: A National Validation Study," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 128(3), pages 1171-1192, September.
    13. Das, Mousumi & Sharma, Ajay & Babu, Suresh Chandra, 2017. "Pathways from agriculture to nutrition in India: Implications for sustainable development goals," IFPRI discussion papers 1649, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

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