Maternal cultural participation and child health status in a Middle Eastern context: evidence from an urban health study

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Abstract

Background

The negative effect of poverty on child health has been well established. However, rapid urbanization in developing countries prompts new research questions relating to socio-cultural practices and other related variables in these settings.

Objective

To examine the association between maternal cultural participation and child health status in impoverished neighbourhoods of Beirut, Lebanon.

Methods

A cross-sectional survey of 1241 mothers with children aged less than 5 years was conducted from randomly selected households in three impoverished neighbourhoods of diverse ethnic and religious make-up. The outcome variable was child health status (good/bad) as assessed by the mother. Maternal variables, including cultural participation, education, demographic and environmental/structural factors, were studied. Descriptive statistics and bivariate associations were provided using Pearson's chi-square tests. Unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios were then obtained from binary logistic regression models.

Results

Two indicators of maternal cultural participation, namely watching entertaining television and attending movies/art exhibitions, were found to be significantly associated with child health status after controlling for other risk factors. The quality of water, the quality of local health services and maternal education were also significantly associated with child health status. Household income, child gender and household dampness had no significant association with child health status in this context.

Conclusion

Maternal cultural participation was a significant predictor of child health status in impoverished urban communities. Improving child health through culturally focused interventions for mothers, especially in deprived areas, may be greatly important.

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