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Am J Epidemiol. 1992 Apr 15;135(8):904-14.

The mediating effect of maternal nutrition knowledge on the association between maternal schooling and child nutritional status in Lesotho.

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Instituto de Nutrición de Centro America y Panama (INCAP), Guatemala, Guatemala.


The present study tested whether maternal nutrition knowledge was a mediating factor in the association between maternal schooling and child nutritional status, and whether the mechanism involved differed according to socioeconomic status. The data were collected in Lesotho on 921 mother-child pairs and included scores from a nutrition knowledge test, socioeconomic and demographic information, and the child's anthropometric data. A wealth factor derived from a factor analysis was used to stratify the sample into two socioeconomic groups. Two-stage least-squares estimation was used to test the mediating role of nutrition knowledge between maternal schooling and child weight-for-age. Results showed that both the importance of maternal schooling and the mechanism by which it affects the child's weight-for-age are contingent upon the family's socioeconomic status. While maternal schooling was positively associated with weight-for-age for both wealthier and poorer households, the size of the effect was much larger for the latter group. The effect of maternal schooling on weight-for-age was mediated by the mother's nutrition knowledge only among wealthier households. These results imply that, in Lesotho, nutrition education for mothers could contribute to improving children's growth, but only in households that have access to a minimum level of resources. For poorer households, nutrition education would not be sufficient.

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