Newswise — Rutgers School of Public Health assistant professor, Shauna Downs, has received a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development to study behavior change communication strategies to improve infant and young child nutrition in Senegal.
Downs will use this grant to determine the impact of a mobile health messaging intervention on infant and young child feeding practices, and to examine the implementation challenges and opportunities for increasing future mobile health messaging programs.
Malnutrition, the primary risk factor for morbidity and mortality in Senegal, disproportionately impacts infants and young Senegalese children. Children that lack good nutrition often experience numerous adverse health outcomes, like poor physical growth and cognitive development, lower academic achievements and financial stability, and increased risk for obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases later in life.
Limited resources, including too few community health workers, present obstacles that interfere with the uptake of recommended nutritional practices.
“In order to positively change the trajectory of malnutrition in young children, people need to first be able to access accurate nutrition information,” says Downs. “We know that mobile phone technology is frequently utilized by the Senegalese population. This enables us to strategically message - using both voice and text - parents of young children about recommended infant and young child feeding practices, ultimately allowing us to provide them with information about best practices.”
“This research will disseminate key nutritional guidance to parents, with the potential to yield positive nutritional outcomes for young children, while generating valuable new findings that could be used to guide future mobile health communications to increase health education outreach,” concludes Downs.
Collaborators include: Joachim Sackey, assistant professor in the Department of Clinical and Preventative Nutrition Sciences at Rutgers School of Health Professions; Souleymane Mboup, founder and CEO of the Institut de Recherche en Santé de Surveillance Epidemiologique et de Formation in Senegal; Moussa Sarr, principal investigator and head of development from the Institut de Recherche en Santé de Surveillance Epidemiologique et de Formation in Senegal; Daouda Gueye project manager from the Institut de Recherche en Santé de Surveillance Epidemiologique et de Formation in Senegal; Ashraful Alam, senior research fellow in Medical Anthropology, International Public Health from the University of Sydney; Tracey-Lea Laba, associate professor in the Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation at the University of Technology Sydney; and Jessica Fanzo, Bloomberg distinguished professor of global food policy and ethics at the Berman Institute of Bioethics of Johns Hopkins University.
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Research reported in this press release was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R21HD105067. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
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