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Effects of birth interval on nutritional status of underfive children in periurban area of Madhya Pradesh, India

Ahmed Shahjada, BK Sharma, Shireen Sharma, Piyusha Mahashabde, Abhishek Bachhotiya.

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Background: Childhood under-nutrition is caused by several factors, but birth spacing is often overlooked even though it is strongly associated with stunting, a characteristic of under-nutrition. Encouraging women to space births through family planning services and educational awareness could contribute to reducing childhood under-nutrition, improve maternal health, and provide healthy childhood development.

Aims & Objective: To find out any association between nutritional status of children and birth interval.

Materials and Methods: It was a Cross-sectional; Observational Community based study conducted in the practice area of Urban Health Training Centre, Index Medical College Hospital & Research Centre, Indore (MP), India. House to house visit, Clinical examination and Anthropometric measurements of the under five children and interview of the adult care-givers with a pre-designed pre-tested proforma was done.

Results: The prevalence of underweight, wasting and stunting in the study population was found to be 46.8%, 38.6% and 40.6% respectively. Majority of the undernourished children were with birth interval less than 24 months. The prevalence of underweight, wasting and stunting was highest among children with birth interval less than 24 months i.e. 57.21%, 42.78% and 51.03% respectively as compared to children with birth interval more than 48 months where prevalence of underweight, wasting and stunting was found to be lowest i.e. 29.62%, 22.22% and 25.92 respectively.

Conclusion: The study showed a consistently positive association, i.e., a longer interval was associated with better nutritional status of children. Such a scenario would be consistent with an association between short subsequent birth interval and child malnutrition.

Key words: Protein Energy Malnutrition; Z-Score; Birth Interval; Under-Five; Underweight; Wasting; Stunting

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