Risk Factors for Malnutrition among Children Less than Five Years: The Role of Environment and Socio-demographic Factors

Yehia Ahmed Musameh Abu Musameh
يحيى احمد ابو مسامح
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Al-Quds University
The aim of this study is to investigate environment and socio-demographic risk factors and other risk factors associated with malnutrition among children under five years of age in the Gaza Strip. The study population consists 90 children who were diagnosed and confirmed as cases of malnutrition according to WHO standards “Z scores less than -2 was the case definition of malnutrition”. Controls were 180 children, Z scores ±2 standard deviation matched with cases for sex, age and locality. A structured questionnaire was administrated to mothers to obtain information on potential risk factors (socioeconomic status, breast feeding and diet patterns, maternal variables, environmental factors and child health status). Anthropometric measurements of weight and height were conducted for controls in order to exclude those children who were malnourished. The equipment used was digital scale and supine length boards. Stunting, wasting and underweight were used as indicators of malnutrition. Chi square and odd ratio and a 95% CI were used and calculated. Factors positively associated with malnutrition identified by the study were low parent’s education, low household monthly income, low money spent on food purchasing, crowded houses, rice pudding as common complementary food, drinking tea, low birth weight babies, preterm babies, child morbidity, pregnancy disorder and caesarian delivered babies. Factors negatively associated with malnutrition identified by the study were working parents, living in nuclear family, living in concrete house, owning the house, having a refrigerator, having a separate kitchen, having a flush toilet and breast feeding during the 1st three days. The study contributes in highlighting malnutrition risk factors providing hints for implementing strategies that could contribute in the prevention of malnutrition. These preventive measures include; improving socioeconomic conditions, promoting breast feeding and dietary pattern, increasing maternal health education and improving housing condition.