Impact of low birth weight and breastfeeding practices on the nutritional status of children aged 2 to 5 years in the slums
Malnutrition among children in developing countries is a major public health problem, especially in India. Inappropriate feeding practices, in combination with other causes such as infection and food shortage, may be responsible for 1/3rd of malnutrition. Moreover, the risk of mortality is inversely related to children's height-for-age and weight-for-height.
The aim: To assess the nutritional status of children aged 2 to 5 years in the urban field practice area of SVIMS-Sri Padmavathi Medical College for Women, Tirupati and to determine the impact of low birth weight, breastfeeding practices and other related factors on the nutritional status of the above study population.
Materials and methods: This is a community-based observational cross-sectional study conducted among 282 children aged 2 to 5 years in the urban field practice area of SVIMS-Sri Padmavathi Medical College for Women, Tirupati. Socio-demographic data, Birth history, breastfeeding practices and anthropometric measurements were noted in the study questionnaire. Nutritional status was determined using HAZ, WHZ and WAZ scores of WHO child growth standards. Data was entered and analyzed using IBM SPSS Statistics 26 version to test for association between categorical variables, and a p-value < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.
Results: A total of 282 school children with mean age of 39.9 (+10.4) months participated in the study, of which 132 (46.8 %) were boys and 150 (53.2 %) were girls. This study observed exclusive breastfeeding in 193 (68.4 %) children. Prevalence of stunting, wasting and being underweight were 22 %, 12.4 % and 23.8 %, respectively. A statistically significant association was found between stunting (p=0.006) and underweight (p=0.001) with low birth weight children.
Conclusions: The present study revealed a high prevalence of malnutrition, especially stunting, a common outcome of long-term malnutrition among young children. Low birth weight and inappropriate breastfeeding practices result in long-term adverse consequences on the nutrition of preschool children, which should be prevented through appropriate strategies.
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