Maternal mental health and undernutrition in under five children
: A mixed method study in Rupandehi, Nepal

  • Manisha Singh

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Maternal mental health has a significant impact on a child’s health. Studies conducted in recent years have established an association between mothers’ mental health and child undernutrition. Both malnutrition in children and mental health problems are highly prevalent in Nepal. However, only two studies have been conducted in Nepal examining the association between maternal mental health and malnutrition. This study also examines the association whilst exploring the perspective of health workers and mothers from the community to provide a comprehensive understanding of the problem.

A concurrent embedded mixed method approach was employed in this study. The study sample was obtained from Lumbini Sanskritik Municipality. A total of 3955 mother-child pairs are included in the quantitative study. A total of nine interviews with the health workers and five focus groups with mothers were conducted from the municipality. A survey using a questionnaire was conducted to collect data for the quantitative part of the study. The survey provided descriptive and contextual information. The qualitative findings were used to support and compliment the findings from the quantitative study.

The prevalence of undernutrition in children was stunting 30.1%, wasting 16.6%, and 24.3% underweight. The prevalence of common mental disorders in mothers was 25.7%. This study found a significant association between mothers CMD (Common Mental Disorder) and undernutrition in children. Binary regression analysis showed the children of mothers with CMD were 2.95 (2.53-3.45) times more likely to be underweight, 2.1 (1.81-2.44) times more likely to be stunted and 2.23 (1.87-2.67) times more likely to be wasted at 95% confidence interval compared to children of mentally well mothers. The qualitative analysis indicated that there was a lack of knowledge, understanding, recognition and management of the mental illness of mothers. Both health workers and mothers poorly understood mental health. The inclusion of maternal mental health programs in child health programs are essential to optimise nutritional status of children.
Date of Award19 Jan 2024
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorPadam Simkhada (Main Supervisor) & Sara Eastburn (Co-Supervisor)

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