Title of project: Nutritional Status of Children, Aged Less than 5 Years, of Vulnerable Women
Authors: Herma Majoor1, M. Monira Parveen1 ([email protected]), and Dewan S. Alam2
(1) Food Security for Vulnerable Group Development Project, 37/3 Eskaton Garden Road, 5-6th Floors, Dhaka 1000, Bangladesh and (2) ICDDR,B: Centre for Health and Population Research, GPO Box 128, Dhaka 1000, Bangladesh
Background: The Food Security for Vulnerable Group Development (FSVGD) Project is a component of the nationwide vulnerable development (VGD) programme. Its main purpose is to increase the food security of VGD women and their dependants. Along with other interventions, the FSVGD distributes wheat-flour fortified with essential micronutrients, including vitamin A, zinc, and iron which is expected to increase the nutritional status of VGD women and their dependants.
Objective: The study was carried out to see the baseline (before distributing fortified food aid) nutritional status of children, aged less than 5 years, of FSVGD Project beneficiaries.
Methodology: A pilot study was conducted on children, aged less than 5 years, of VGD women from the cycle 2003-2004 in 2 of 7 project districts. In total, 158 children were assessed for their nutritional status that included anthropometrical measurements, such as weight, height/length, mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC), blood haemoglobin concentration, and dietary consumption. Their raw anthropometric data were compared with the NCHS reference values, and age- and sex-adjusted anthropometric indices were calculated. Anaemia was defined using haemoglobin thresholds recommended by the World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund, and dietary intakes of selected nutrients were compared with the recommended daily allowance (RDA).
Results: 51.3%, 42.4%, and 12.1% of the study children were under-weight (WAZ <-2 SD), stunted (HAZ <-2 SD), and wasted (WHZ <-2 SD). Anaemia was present in 59% of the children. The prevalence of malnutrition was significantly higher among children aged 12-23 months and also among female children. The use of hygienic sanitary latrines tended to be positively associated with the WHZ scores, and deworming in the last 6 months was significantly associated with the decreased risk of wasting in children.
Conclusion: Widespread malnutrition is prevalent among all FSVGD women and their children aged less than 5 years. A higher prevalence of malnutrition in 12-23-month age-group is probably attributable to inadequate feeding practice from birth, and the poorer nutritional status of female children might be due to gender discrimination in that community.
Acknowledgements: The financial support of the European Commission (EC) is acknowledged.