Zeweter Abebe

Impact of home gardening on breastmilk vitamin A composition and child vitamin A intake

Doctorate: PhD in Food Science and Nutrition, Addis Ababa University, 2016
Current employment: Assistant Professor, Ambo University
Home mentor: Dr Kaleab Baye, Associate professor, Center for Food Science and Nutrition, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
Host mentor: Dr. Marjorie Haskell, Associate Research Nutritionist, Program in International and Community Nutrition, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA

Short biography:

Zeweter Abebe studied Food Science and Nutrition at Addis Ababa University and Horticulture at Jimma and Haramaya Universities in Ethiopia. She did her PhD in Food science and Nutrition at Addis Ababa University Ethiopia; her supervisors were Dr Kaleab Baye and Professor Gulelat Dessie. Her thesis focused on non-food and food approaches that can improve infant and young child nutrition. Dr. Abebe has expertise in qualitative, quantitative and nutritional research methods. Her research interests include maternal and child nutrition. She has research experience on child growth, nutrition education, appetite, micronutrient supplements, breastmilk nutrient composition etc. Her IMMANA research aims to study the link between home gardening and nutrition of lactating women and children. Garden and non-garden variables will be used in the study to develop indicators to target mothers for interventions aimed at improving maternal and child nutrition.

Project summary:

Given that continuous breastfeeding up to two years is a norm in most of the developing countries, breast milk has been a major source of nutrients such as vitamin A for the infants and young children. On the other hand, low breast milk vitamin A (BMVA) concentration has been highly prevalent in these countries, partly due to poor maternal diet.

The purpose of my IMMANA-funded study is to:

  1. Quantify the impacts of home gardening on BMVA and pro vitamin A carotenoid concentration, and estimate the contribution of BMVA to the daily vitamin A requirement of the children, during (0 - 6 months) and after (6 -12 months) the exclusive breast feeding period;
  2.  Determine vitamin A intake cutoff values associated with low and optimal BMVA concentration;
  3. Develop a statistical model, fitting garden and non-garden variables, that predicts risk of low BMVA concentration in West Gojam, Northern Ethiopia.