Background: In India, undernutrition remains a major public health problem despite several national programs targeting vulnerable groups, especially children.
Objectives: To assess the nutritional status and morbidity profile of under-5 children and to elicit the explanatory and contextual factors of this malady.
Materials and Methods: An observational, cross-sectional, descriptive study was conducted among under-5 children in a slum area of Kolkata, West Bengal, India. Anthropometric measurements were made following standard operative procedures and recall period of morbidity profile of last 2 weeks was recorded.
Results: Of total 100 under-5 children assessed, the mean (standard deviation) of the sample was 23.52 (15.65) months. About 55% children were found to have anthropometric failure using composite index of anthropometric failure. However, with standard anthropometric indices such as weight for age, weight for height, height for age, and mid upper arm circumference prevalence of malnutrition were 42% (underweight), 30% (wasting), 28% (stunting), and 48% (undernutrition), respectively. About 48% children had some kind of morbidity of which acute respiratory infection accounted for 9%, diarrhea 11%, fever 9%, and skin infection 6%. Age [OR = 5.17 (2.09–12.76)], family type [OR = 4.11 (1.77–9.49)], literacy of mother [OR = 15.79 (5.98–42.35)], birth weight [OR = 4.2 (1.74–10.13)], birth order [OR = 5.25 (1.41–19.51)], and morbidity profile [OR = 6.35 (2.62–15.36)] are significantly associated with nutritional status.
Conclusion: Accelerating the reduction in under-5 mortality is possible by expanding effective preventive and curative interventions that target the main causes of undernutrition. All efforts must be made to improve the nutritional status of the children. This will in the long run help in making this nation healthier, stronger, and more prosperous.
Composite index of anthropometric failure, morbidity, under-5 children
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