Child wasting before and after age two years: A cross-sectional study of 94 countries

Omar Karlsson, Rockli Kim, Saul Guerrero, Andreas Hasman, S.v. Subramanian

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikel i vetenskaplig tidskriftPeer review


Wasting reflects infections and poor nutrition and affects almost 50 million children at any given time. Wasting comes with immediate risk of mortality and increased risks for long-term negative consequences for development. Children under two are particularly sensitive to undernutrition and infections. We estimated the age patterning in wasting prevalence.

We calculated wasting prevalence and used Poisson regression models to estimate prevalence ratios comparing prevalence in children under and over two years using data from Demographic and Health Surveys and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys from 94 mostly low- and middle-income countries, including 804,172 children under five, born to a nationally representative sample of women 15–49 years old. Wasting prevalence was defined as the percentage of children with weight-for-height below –2 z-score from the median of the WHO 2006 growth standard.

Wasting prevalence for children under two was 14% (95% CI: 13, 14) while it was 9% (95% CI: 9, 9) for children 2–4 years old—leading to a prevalence ratio of 0·66 (95% CI: 0·64, 0·67) in our pooled sample. Prevalence ratios were less than one, indicating lower prevalence in children over two, in 87 countries and statistically significantly lower than one at a 5% level (non-adjusted) in 68 countries. Wasting prevalence was generally lower in children under two for males and females and the wealthiest and poorest households.

Since wasting prevalence was observed to be greater among children 0–2 years, and adverse exposure to undernutrition and infections are particularly harmful and interventions are more effective during the 1000 days from conception until age two, nutrition interventions should ensure coverage of children under two through programmatic measures to increase detection and enrollment in wasting programs.
StatusPublished - 2022 apr. 1

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Folkhälsovetenskap, global hälsa, socialmedicin och epidemiologi


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