Background: Maternal undernutrition rates in Ethiopia are among the highest in the world. In addition, a huge inequity exists within the country, with pregnant women in rural communities being at increased risk. This study assessed the prevalence of undernutrition and its associated factors among pregnant women in a rural community in southern Ethiopia.
Methods: A community-based cross-sectional study was conducted among 376 randomly selected pregnant women. Data were collected through face-to-face interview followed by mid-upper arm circumference measurement. Household food insecurity and minimum dietary diversity for women were assessed. Data were entered into EpiData 3.1 and exported to SPSS 20 for analysis. Logistic regression models were fitted to check associations between independent variables and undernutrition. Statistical significance was set at p
Results: The prevalence of undernutrition was 41.2% (95% CI 36.3%-46.3%). Unintended pregnancy (AOR 2.06, 95% CI 1.27-3.36) and not participating in Wome's Health Development Army meetings (AOR 3.64, 95% CI 1.51-8.77) were independent predictors of undernutrition. However, minimum dietary diversity for women of five or more food groups (AOR 0.24, 95% CI 0.07-0.82), having at least one antenatal care visit (AOR 0.46, 95% CI 0.27-0.78), age at first pregnancy >= 20 years (AOR 0.39, 95% CI 0.21-0.76), and being from food-secure households (AOR 0.26, 95% CI 0.16-0.43) were independent protective factors against undernutrition.
Conclusion: Undernutrition among pregnant women was highly prevalent in the study area. Interventions aiming to reduce undernutrition should focus on discouraging teenage and unintended pregnancy, reducing household food insecurity, and promoting antenatal care visits and encouraging consumption of diversified diets by women. Strengthening the existing network of the Women's Health Development Army seems to be very important.