J Child Health Care. 2022 Jun 17:13674935221108011. doi: 10.1177/13674935221108011. Online ahead of print.
Existing knowledge of how maternal autonomy relates to child undernutrition in Nigeria is few and limited to children under 24 months old. Nothing is known about how it affects older children. Therefore, this study investigated whether mothers’ household autonomy affects children 24-59 months, as do children under 24 months old. We used data from 2018 Nigerian Demographic and Health Survey, which is a nationally representative survey. Samples include 3502 and 5463 children under 24 months and between 24 and 59 months old, respectively. Three anthropometry indexes were used to determine child undernutrition: weight-for-height, height-for-age, and weight-for-age, which indicate wasting, stunting, and underweight, respectively. Three domains of maternal autonomy: decision-making, financial-control, and mobility, were operationalized using responses from mothers. Results from logistic regression analysis show that in unadjusted models, maternal decision-making autonomy and mobility were associated with undernutrition in both samples. After adding covariates, only associations between maternal decision-making autonomy and underweight in children 24-59 months old retained statistical significance. Findings show that gendered social inequalities are linked to differences in child nutritional outcomes. Future studies could investigate how feeding practices mediate associations between maternal autonomy and childhood undernutrition.