Home visits by neighborhood Mentor Mothers provide timely recovery from childhood malnutrition in South Africa

africavillageIngrid M le Roux, Karl le Roux, W Scott Comulada, Erin M Greco, Katherine A Desmond, Nokwanele Mbewu, and Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus

A study has found that paraprofessional Mentor Mothers are an effective strategy for delivering home visiting programs by providing the knowledge and support necessary to change the behavior of families at risk.

The objective of this study is to evaluate whether the Philani program can rehabilitate malnourished children in a timely manner. Mentor Mothers were trained to conduct home visits.

Mentor Mothers went from house to house in assigned neighborhoods, weighed children age 5 and younger, and recruited mother-child dyads where there was an underweight child. Participating dyads were assigned in a 2:1 random sequence to the Philani intervention condition (n = 536) or a control condition (n = 252). Mentor Mothers visited dyads in the intervention condition for one year, supporting mothers’ problem-solving around nutrition. All children were weighed by Mentor Mothers at baseline and three, six, nine and twelve month follow-ups.

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