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1.1       Background of the study

The causes of malnutrition are many and complex. Inappropriate breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices coupled with high rates of infectious diseases are the major immediate cause of malnutrition during the first two years of life. Reports show that the rate of exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is still very low in Nigeria- between 15% and 17%. Children who are not breastfed have repeated infections, experience poor growth and are almost six times more likely to die by the age of one month than children who receive at least some breast milk. From six months onwards, when breast milk alone is no longer sufficient to meet all nutritional requirements, infants enter a particularly vulnerable period of complementary feeding. They make a gradual transition to eating family foods. The incidence of malnutrition rises sharply between this age and 18 months in most countries (UNICEF, 1998; Dewey, 2003; WHO, 2003). The deficits acquired at this age are difficult to compensate for later in childhood. Infants therefore, need nutritionally adequate energy-dense complementary foods in addition to breast milk (NFCNS, 2003; WHO, 2003).


Unfortunately, complementary feeding begins too early or too late, and foods are often nutritionally inadequate and unsafe (WHO, 2002). This results to protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) and micronutrient deficiency (hidden hunger). NFCNS reported very high levels of iron deficiency anemia among infants. Poor absorption of iron, parasitic infestation and disease are equally contributory factors. Often, the traditionally complementary foods consist mainly of porridges made from un-supplemented cereals and starchy food such as sorghum, maize and millet (WHO, 1998). The foods are mostly inadequate in energy, protein and micronutrients (ACC/SCN, 2000; Jarkata, 2005).

To this effect, the formulation and development of nutritious complementary foods from local and readily available foods had received considerable attention in Nigeria (Nnam, 1994; Ifudu & Obizoba, 1989; Obizoba, 1989; Nnam, 1998; Nnam, 2001; Nnam, 2000; Ibeanu & Obizoba, 2004; Nnam, 2002).


Staple foods such as maize, soybean and iron-rich green leafy vegetables e.g. Moringa oleifera (“drum stick” or “Okwe Oyibo”) could be good for the development of good complementary food. The thrust of this study is to develop and determine the nutrient value, and acceptability of maize-based complementary food fortified with Moringa oleifera and  access its quality in infants.


1.2       Statement of the problem

Micronutrient deficiencies have been recognized as an important contributor to the global burden of disease. Iodine deficiency in pregnancy has long been linked to intra-uterine brain damage and possible fetal wastage.  This has led to effective programs for making iodized salt available in iodine-deficient areas (Black, 2003). Iodine deficiency disease has been improved.


Iron deficiency also affects about two billion people.  However, interventions to control iron deficiency have been less successful.  Recent estimates finds that iron deficiency anemia is responsible for a fifth of early neonatal mortality and a tenth of maternal mortality.  Iron deficiency also reduces cognitive development and work performance.  Iron deficiency is the attributable cause of about 800,000 deaths and 2.4% , of the global burden of disease (Black, 2003).


Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) harms the eyes and increase childhood and material mortality.  Globally, 21% of children have vitamin A deficiency and suffer increased rates of deaths from diarrhea, measles, and malaria. About 800,000 deaths in children and women of reproductive age ate attributable to VAD which accounts for 1.8% of the global burden of disease.  This appears to be lower than previous estimates possibly due to vitamin A supplementation or food fortification programs during the last decade.


The importance of zinc deficiency is being increasingly recognized.  Trials have shown that zinc supplementation results in improved growth in children, lower rates of diarrhea, malaria, and pneumonia, and reduced child mortality.  In total, about 800,000 child deaths per year are attributable to zinc deficiency.  Zinc deficiency is responsible for 1.9% of global burden of disease.


According to WHO, 19% of the 10.8 million child deaths globally a year are attributable to iodine, iron, vitamin A, and zinc deficiencies.  In Nigeria, UNICEF (2001) recorded malnutrition as the major causes of health problem of infants and young children.  The problem is more common amongst children 6months to 24 months of age which coincides with the period of complementary feeding.  This problem is attributed to the introduction of poor complementary foods which are inadequate in protein, energy and micronutrients. In effect, vitamin A deficiency among these children is higher than 16% in some regions in Nigeria (Profile, 2001), and anemia as high as 50%, 43.1% suffered PEM. And 22.3% suffered from moderate and severe malnutrition.  Though PEM is addressed, there is still gap in micronutrient deficient problems.


To address these nutritional problems, nutritious complementary foods could be formulated from locally available foods and fortified with micronutrient dense food material.  This research therefore explored the nutritional quality of infant composite complementary food prepare from maize, soybean and Moringa oleifera


1.3       Objectives of the study 

The general objective of the study was to prepare infant-fed composite complementary food from locally available foods –maize (Zea mays), soybean (Gylycine max) and Moringa oleifera leaves- and evaluate the nutritional quality of the products. The specific objectives of the study were to:

  1. develop infant complementary food from yellow maize (Zea mays), soybean (Glycine max) and green leafy vegetables (Moringa oleifera).
  2. determine the nutrient composition of the complementary food.
  3. determine the acceptability of the food.
  4. determine the nutritional quality of the infant complementary food in children.


1.4       Significance of the study

The result of this study would:

  1. provide a quality local infant complementary food for infants aged 6 months and above.
  2. further provide baseline information for Dietitians and Nutritionists, public and community health workers on how to fight malnutrition among infants and young children in Nigeria.
  3. increase food diversity.
  4. create room for more researches.
  5. create job opportunities for people who will embark on planting and processing of Moringa oleifera.
  6. improve the country’s economy through individuals and groups.
  7. create room for and encourage nutrition education.
  8. project Moringa oleifera as a possible home – gardening solution to malnutrition in the third world.

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