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Factor associated with anthropometric failure among under-five Bengali children: A comparative study between Bangladesh and India

PLoS One. 2022 Aug 5;17(8):e0272634. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0272634. eCollection 2022.


BACKGROUND: Child undernutrition is a burden and the leading cause of child mortality in low-and middle-income countries like Bangladesh and India. Currently, this issue is a matter of great concern, inasmuch as achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The study intends to determine the factors of child undernutrition using a single composite index of anthropometric failure (CIAF) among the Bengali population.

METHODS: Unit level data on 14055 under 5 children were extracted from the Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey 2017-18 (BDHS) and the 4th National Family Health Survey of India (NFHS-4). To understand child undernutrition and generate CIAF, data on height-for-age (stunting), weight-for-height (wasting), and weight-for-age (underweight) were used by WHO guidelines. These three undernutrition indicators were combined into a single undernutrition indicator called anthropometric failure (anth-failure) using the CIAF concept. Explanatory factors of anth-failure included data on maternal health, socio-demographic and birth-related variables. Differences of frequency were determined by Z-proportional and Chi-square tests; predictors of anth-failure were determined by binary logistic regression. Cut off point of p-value was taken as 0.05 to test the significance.

RESULTS: Inter-country disparities were revealed, about half of Bengali children in India and two-fifths in Bangladesh being prone to anth-failure. Stunting and underweight were more prevalent in both countries than wasting. Maternal undernutrition, lack of maternal education, and poor wealth index were common factors of anth-failure for both countries. Children in Bangladesh developed anth-failure after the end of breastfeeding period, indicating a lack of nutritious food. Lack of antenatal care was another significant factor in Bangladesh. In India, the first child suffered from anth-failure due to lack of maternal education.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides a better understanding of multifactorial impact on child undernutrition. It is proposed that the emphasis should be on initiatives that improve maternal education and nutrition, child food security, boost household wealth index, and enhance mothers’ access to health care. The study strongly recommends that the governments of Bangladesh and India invest financially in preventing child malnutrition, which will contribute to achieving the first four SDGs.

PMID:35930584 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0272634

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