Mal J Nutr 20(2): 197 - 207, 2014

Factors Affecting Nutritional Status of Children below 24 Months in Pekan District, Pahang, Malaysia
Nargis Masroor, Jamaluddin Ab Rahman, Tin Myo Han, Muzzaffar Ali Khan Khattak & Aye Aye

ABSTRACT

Introduction: This study aimed to assess the nutritional status of children below 24 months in the district of Pekan, Pahang, and identify the contributing factors.
Methods: Using a cross-sectional methodology, a total of 910 children was selected by random sampling from four public health clinics. Anthropometric measurements were taken and weight-for-age, height-for-age, and weight-forheight were calculated in Z scores. Immediate caregivers of children were interviewed by using a pretested validated questionnaire to assess their socioeconomic, demographic, educational and occupational status.
Results: Of the 910 children who participated in the study, the majority were Malay (70.1%), while the remaining comprised indigenous or Orang-Asli (OA) children. Prevalence of wasting, stunting and underweight were 28.7 %, 15.6 % and 19.0% respectively. There were more underweight males than females. Wasting was most common among children aged below 6 months. Stunting was more prevalent in children between 12 to 24 months. Obesity was seen in 7.3% of the sample. Maternal education, employment and socio-economic status had a significant influence on wasting and underweight. Children were vulnerable to stunting as age advanced, whereas prevalence of wasting tended to decrease.
Conclusion: Malnutrition exists in significant proportions among children below 24 months in the Pekan district. This study identified low birth weight along with age, race, gender, large family size and socio-economic status as important risk factors of malnutrition.

Keywords: Anthropometry, childhood malnutrition, maternal education, social status

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