Does village chickenkeeping contribute to young childrens diets and growth A longitudinal observational study in rural Tanzania

J de Bruyn
PC Thomson
I Darnton-Hill
Brigitte Bagnol
W Maulaga
RG Alders
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There is substantial current interest in linkages between livestock-keeping and human nutrition in resource-poor settings. These may include benefits of improved diet quality, through animal-source food consumption and nutritious food purchases using livestock-derived income, and hazards of infectious disease or environmental enteric dysfunction associated with exposure to livestock feces. Particular concerns center on free-roaming chickens, given their proximity to children in rural settings, but findings to date have been inconclusive. This longitudinal study of 503 households with a child under 24 months at enrolment was conducted in villages of Manyoni District, Tanzania between May 2014, and May 2016. Questionnaires encompassed demographic characteristics, assets, livestock ownership, chicken housing practices, maternal education, water and sanitation, and dietary diversity. Twice-monthly household visits provided information on chicken numbers, breastfeeding and child diarrhea, and anthropometry was collected six-monthly. Multivariable mixed model analyses evaluated associations between demographic, socioeconomic and livestock-associated variables and (a) maternal and child diets, (b) children’s height-for-age and (c) children’s diarrhea frequency. Alongside modest contributions of chicken-keeping to some improved dietary outcomes, this study importantly (and of substantial practical significance if confirmed) found no indication of a heightened risk of stunting or greater frequency of diarrhea being associated with chicken-keeping or the practice of keeping chickens within human dwellings overnight.
Chickens - Tanzania, Food supply - Tanzania, Nutrition - Tanzania, Children - Nutrition - Tanzania