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Undernutrition among the rural preschool children (icds) of Arambag, Hooghly District, West Bengal, India, using new head circumference cut-off points

Author: 
Gopal Chandra Mandal and Kaushik Bose
Subject Area: 
Health Sciences
Abstract: 

The Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) aim towards the reduction of maternal and child mortality. Low income, bad healthcare and neglect of basic education can all be influential in causing and sustaining the extraordinary level of undernutrition in India. Undernutrition among preschool children may be the result of faulty feeding practices rather than scarcity of the food. The nutritional status of the people is increasingly being recognized world over as an important indicator of development of a country. Anthropometry is widely recognized as one of the useful techniques to assess the growth and nutritional status of an individual or population. One of the basic reason is that, anthropometry is highly sensitive to undernutrition. Under the Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) scheme, the development of women as well as children implements the food supplementation program for improving nutritional status of the mother and children. The package of services provided by the ICDS scheme includes supplementary nutrition, immunization, health check-up, referral services, nutrition and health education, and preschool education. Keeping these in mind, the present work attempted to study the nutritional status of 894 children (boys = 441; girls = 453) aged 2-5 years rural preschool children from 20 ICDS centers of Bali-Gram panchayat, Hooghly district, West Bengal, India. Here, we tried to assess the nutritional status of the studied children with the help of the head circumference (HC) by using new WHO (2007) recommended cutoff points. The overall (age combined) rate of undernutrition among girls was slightly higher (64.9%) than boys (62.8%). There is clear increasing trend of undernutrition among the boys with the increasing age. The age specific highest prevalence among boys was found at age 5 years (74.8%), whereas, among girls, the highest rate (76.5%) was noticed at age 4 years followed by children of 5 years of age and the lowest (44.3%) prevalence was found at age 3 years. The overall prevalence (age combined) of undernutrition based on head circumference cut-off points, showed significant association with the sex (χ2 = 5.50; df=1, p < 0.025). Our study clearly indicated that the nutritional status of these pre-school children was serious with very high rates of undernutrition in both sexes based on HC.

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