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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Pediatrics
Title Risk factors for early childhood malnutrition in Uganda
Volume 102
Issue 4
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 1998
Page numbers e45-e45
URL http://www.pediatricsdigest.mobi/content/102/4/e45.full
Objective. To assess the dietary and environmental factors influencing stunting and other signs of poor nutritional status of children <30 months of age in a central Ugandan community, whose main dietary staples are banana (matoki) and maize.

Methods. The study was a cross-sectional survey using stratified multistage random sampling to select households with a child <30 months of age in rural and semi-urban environments. A questionnaire was administered to mothers of 261 infants and toddlers in their home setting. Their health status was assessed by clinical examination and anthropometric measurements (mid-upper arm circumference [MUAC], weight, and supine length).

Results. A large minority (21.5%) of the children surveyed were found in poor health after clinical examination: 3.8% being classified as suffering from kwashiorkor and 5.7% with marasmus. A high proportion of children were stunted (23.8%), underweight (24.1%), or had low MUAC (21.6%). Although rural living, poor health, the use of unprotected water supplies, lack of charcoal as fuel, lack of milk consumption, and lack of personal hygiene were shown as risk factors for marasmus and underweight, different factors were found to be associated with risk of stunting and low MUAC, despite these three parameters being significantly correlated. For stunting the risk factors were: age of the child, poor health, prolonged breastfeeding (from >18 months to <24 months), low socioeconomic status of the family, poor education of the mother of infants <12 months, lack of paraffin as fuel, consumption of food of low energy density (<350 kcal/100 g dry matter), presence of eye pathology, and consumption of small meals. Risk factors for low MUAC were poor health, lack of meat and cow's milk consumption, low intake of energy from fat, and less well educated and older mothers. Food taboos had no influence on any of the anthropometric measurements. Although 93.1% of the children had been immunized against tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria, and measles and showed better general health than children who were not immunized, there was a high prevalence of infection in the week preceding the survey interview, including diarrhea (23.0%), malaria (32.3%), or cough/influenza (72.8%).

Conclusions. This first account of dietary and environmental risk factors involved in the etiology of early childhood malnutrition in Uganda indicates differences in risk factors for marasmus and underweight compared with stunting and low MUAC. The high prevalence of malnutrition and current infection of children in this survey suggests poor immune function as a result of inadequate nutrition.

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