2009 Volume 24 Issue 4 Pages 289-298
According to the state of the world's children 2006, 28% of children under five years of age in sub-Sahara Africa are malnourished, which has serious effects on these children's health and lives.
Extensive research has been conducted on child malnutrition in a variety of developing countries. These studies have established scientific indexes to lead and coordinate international action to assist the needy. Central African Republic, however, has been a blind spot. Therefore, the present study was conducted in order to clarify the nutritional status and associated factors of 6 to 24-month-old children in the district of Boy-rabe, Bangui, Central African Republic.
Participants were mothers with children aged 6-24 months who visited either a government-run clinic or the NGO-run clinic, Amis d'Afrique, between August 26th and September 16th of 2006. Mothers were interviewed using a structured questionnaire and measurements of the children's weight and length were collected. Weight, length, and age data were compared with child growth standards proposed by the WHO to calculated z-scores for evaluating length-for-age (wasting), weight-for-length (stunted growth), and weight-for-age (underweight). The following factors were investigated for their association to malnutrition in children: “demographic characteristics”, “access to food”, “maternal and child-care practices”, and “poor water/sanitation and inadequate health services”.
A total of 126 mother-child pairs participated in this study and valid data from 109 pairs were subjected to analysis. The rates of wasting, stunted growth, and underweight children were 20.2%, 61.5% and 42.2%, respectively.
Incomplete vaccination (p=0.043) and the mother not having a partner (p=0.046) were significantly associated with wasting. Stunted growth was found to be associated with older child's age (p<0.001), older mothers' age (p=0.005), mothers who had stopped breast-feeding (p=0.031), insufficient breast-feeding (p=0.032), mothers with child death experience (p=0.022), mothers with a number of delivery experiences (p=0.026) and mothers with a partner (p=0.042). Underweight children were associated with incomplete vaccination (p=0.043) and mothers with child death experience (p=0.046).
In total, 8 factors were found to be significantly associated with child's malnutrition and household/family level. In particular, severe acute malnutrition, or wasting, was related to insufficient vaccination, while chronic malnutrition, or stunted growth, was significantly associated with breast-feeding.