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Open Access Research

Nutritional status of young children in Mumbai slums: a follow-up anthropometric study

Sushmita Das1, Ujwala Bapat1, Neena Shah More1, Glyn Alcock2, Armida Fernandez1 and David Osrin2*

Author Affiliations

1 Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action (SNEHA), Urban Health Centre, Chota Sion Hospital, 60 Feet Road, Shahunagar, Dharavi, Mumbai, 400017, Maharashtra, India

2 Institute for Global Health, UCL Institute of Child Health, 30 Guilford Street, London, WC1N 1EH, UK

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Nutrition Journal 2012, 11:100  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-100

Published: 23 November 2012

Abstract

Background

Chronic childhood malnutrition remains common in India. As part of an initiative to improve maternal and child health in urban slums, we collected anthropometric data from a sample of children followed up from birth. We described the proportions of underweight, stunting, and wasting in young children, and examined their relationships with age.

Methods

We used two linked datasets: one based on institutional birth weight records for 17 318 infants, collected prospectively, and one based on follow-up of a subsample of 1941 children under five, collected in early 2010.

Results

Mean birth weight was 2736 g (SD 530 g), with a low birth weight (<2500 g) proportion of 22%. 21% of infants had low weight for age standard deviation (z) scores at birth (<−2 SD). At follow-up, 35% of young children had low weight for age, 17% low weight for height, and 47% low height for age. Downward change in weight for age was greater in children who had been born with higher z scores.

Discussion

Our data support the idea that much of growth faltering was explained by faltering in height for age, rather than by wasting. Stunting appeared to be established early and the subsequent decline in height for age was limited. Our findings suggest a focus on a younger age-group than the children over the age of three who are prioritized by existing support systems.

Funding

The trial during which the birth weight data were collected was funded by the ICICI Foundation for Inclusive Growth (Centre for Child Health and Nutrition), and The Wellcome Trust (081052/Z/06/Z). Subsequent collection, analysis and development of the manuscript was funded by a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award: Population Science of Maternal and Child Survival (085417ma/Z/08/Z). D Osrin is funded by The Wellcome Trust (091561/Z/10/Z).