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Research – Nicaragua


For the baseline survey, data were collected on infant and young child (IYC) nutritional status (anthropometry) and feeding practices in a cross-sectional sample of 1152 children and their mothers from four districts, each with intervention and control participant communities. The data indicate less than optimal IYCF and rMN practices, in particular around exclusive breastfeeding, iron intake, complementary feeding, health care seeking, and dietary diversity among mothers and young children. Read the Ventana de Oportunidad’s Baseline Report.

The Ventana de Oportunidad’s Formative Research Report outlines the qualitative research that was conducted on IYCF in the communities of El Bote, Ayapal, Kubali, and Manceras in 2009. The results revealed two major issues for programming: lack of exclusive breastfeeding beyond 3-4 months, and inadequate post-partum diet.

At a special joint meeting in 2010, representatives from Ventana presented the baseline and formative research data to representatives from the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health, Pan American Health Organization(PAHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and representatives from national and international non‐governmental organizations.

Click here to read Ventana de Oportunidad’s Mid-term Review Report. The purpose of the mid-term research was to monitor progress towards achieving indicators using key questions from the baseline survey.  Some additional questions ascertained participation in mother-to-mother support groups, access to counseling, and women’s decision-making

In 1981, the World Health Organization passed an International Code of Breast-milk Substitutes, calling upon governments to adopt the code into official policies and legislation. This code is a set of recommendations to regulate the marketing of breast-milk substitutes, feeding bottles, and teats and applies to their quality and availability, as well as to information concerning their use. It covers several areas including information and educational materials, advertising and marketing practices, health care workers, promotional materials, and labeling. Nicaragua officially adopted this Code in 1999, when it passed Law 295, the Law of Promotion, Protection and Continuance of Breast Feeding and the Regulation of Breast Milk Substitute Commercialization. Click here to read the study Evaluation of the Application of Law 295 in Matagalpa and Jinotega Nicaragua

The study Social Capital and Behavior Change in Rural Nicaragua was conducted in 2009 to examine the influence of social capital (cohesiveness within a community) on IYCF behaviors in Window intervention areas. Results indicated that community health workers do provide a source of structural social capital for pregnant and lactating women, but that their efforts are inhibited by the voluntary nature of the work and the fact that most community health workers are male.

In order to increase women’s use of maternal health services, it is important to understand the factors and perceptions that influence women’s health care seeking behaviors during pregnancy. Through 37 in-depth interviews with women in Matagalpa, the study Exposing the Barriers: Men, Money and Misconceptions –  Utilization of Maternal Health Care Services in Matagalpa investigates barriers influencing women’s use of maternal health services. Results reveal that delays in seeking health care during pregnancy are not purely influenced by poor access to care and economic barriers, but also are augmented by individual and community knowledge and acceptance of maternal health services. Partner support, previous maternal health care experiences and the degree of communication with other women and health workers affect women’s decisions to seek care. Evidence suggests that in order to improve maternal health outcomes in this region, it is necessary to target interventions at a hierarchy of levels: individual, household and community.

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