Malnutrition among 3 to 5 Years Old Children in Baghdad City, Iraq: A Cross-Sectional Study

By Ghazi, Hasanain Faisal; Mustafa, Jamsiah et al. | Journal of Health Population and Nutrition, September 2013 | Go to article overview

Malnutrition among 3 to 5 Years Old Children in Baghdad City, Iraq: A Cross-Sectional Study


Ghazi, Hasanain Faisal, Mustafa, Jamsiah, Aljunid, Syed, Isa, Zaleha Md., Abdalqader, Mohammed A., Journal of Health Population and Nutrition


INTRODUCTION

Sociodemographic factors, such as age, sex, family-size, and number of children may indirectly contribute to a child's nutritional status and affect child health. The complex aetiology of childhood malnutrition is a multifactorial process and related to many socioeconomic and sociodemographic factors.

The primary determinants of malnutrition were unsatisfactory food intake, severe and repeated infections, or a combination of the two. The nutritional status of children may also be affected by socioeconomic and demographic factors, such as paternal and maternal occupation and education, marital status, family income, nutritional knowledge of mothers, location of house (urban or rural), gender, and water supply (1).

The sex of children is an important influential factor in determining nutritional status. Some subnational studies on gender differences in anthropometric status found female children in India to be at disadvantage (2). Some have found no gender differences (3), and a few have found male children to be more often stunted or underweight (4,5).

The family-size and number of children living in the same house are important factors for nutritional status of the children, which reflects the quality of care given to those children. A study done to assess the nutritional status of children aged 6 to 59 months in Livingstone, Zambia, in 2005, found that 43% of undernourished children were associated with extended families (five to seven members) while 36% were associated with nuclear families (two to four members) (6).

One important factor relating to childhood nutrition is the mother's education. Many studies have demonstrated that improvements in secondary school enrollment rates among females are estimated to be responsible for 43% of the total 15.5% decline in the childhood underweight rate in developing countries during the period 1970-1995 (7). The father's education also emerged as an important factor that was significantly associated with underweight status among under-five children. Analysis showed that children whose fathers had higher education had lower levels of weight deficiency than those with non-literate fathers. Usually, the father is the main earner and decision-maker in a family; so, their higher education plays an important role in ensuring better nutritional status of children (8).

Environmental factors play an important role in child's nutritional status, especially in Iraq. Thirteen years of economic sanctions followed by the 2003 war and eight years of unstable socioeconomic and political security, especially in Baghdad city, have affected the daily life of Iraqi families and children, especially in respect of their nutritional status. Nutritional status is the result of a complex interaction between the food we eat, our overall health, and the environment in which we live. Food, health, and caring are the three "pillars of well-being" (9).

Basic services, such as electricity and water supply, have been disrupted, and a rise in food prices has affected food security at the household level (10). This will, in turn, cause malnutrition among family members, especially the children.

The unstable living situation in Iraq since 2003 still affects the physical and mental health of the people. Violence dominates everyday life of the Iraqis. As car bombings, roadside bombings, suicide bombings, murders, sniper attacks, kidnappings, drive-by shootings, torture, and sectarian killings have become daily events in many cities (11).

Gabriela Guerrero-Serdan (3) carried out a study in Iraq to assess the effects of war on nutrition and health. He assumed that war has affected the physical growth of children whereby those born after the war in high-intensity conflict areas had lower height-for-age z-scores than those born in less violent areas. He also found that weight-for-age z-scores increased in 2004 but decreased in 2006. …

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