3. MALNUTRITION OR PLAGUE: PREVALENCE AND DETERMINANTS OF CHRONIC MALNUTRITION AMONG PAKHTUN UNDER FIVE YEARS CHILDREN

Fazia Ghaffar1, Saba Tanveer1, Syed Saeed Qadir2, Samia Aslam1

1Department of Food & Nutrition Sciences, College of Home Economics, University of Peshawar - Pakistan
2Department of Food & Nutrition, United Nations Children’s Fund, Islamabad - Pakistan

Abstract

Objectives: To assess the prevalence and determinants of malnutrition among the Pakhtun under five years children.
Material & Methods: This cross sectional study was carried out at the pediatric wards of Hayatabad Medical Complex,
Peshawar, Pakistan from November 2010 to March 2011. A total of 200 children were assessed for anthropometric
measurements, biochemical blood indices for some nutrients, feeding and weaning practices and a number of socio-
demographic factors.
Results: Major determinants identified in the current study were poverty, gross illiteracy particularly among mothers,
large and complex family structures, large family sizes, late and poor weaning practices and frequent infections. The
promising feature was exclusive breast feeding up till 9 months (75%). The data showed stunting (low -height- for- age)
after one year and wasting (low- weight- for- height) in the age group 06 months up till one year to be very common.
Throughout this age group anthropometry exhibited low trends against the WHO standards. Among the underlying
nutritional deficiencies anemia with lower hemoglobin level remained a permanent feature and followed by low blood
calcium and serum albumin.
Conclusion: Although child malnutrition is multisectorial involving many aspects of life. Poverty, illiteracy, frequent
infections, domestic food insecurity and poor dietary practices are the major determinants of malnutrition among the
Pakhtuns of this region.

Keywords: Malnutrition, Pakhtun, anthropometric, socio-demographic, dietary practices.

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