oa South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition - Stunting among young black children and the socio-economic and health status of their mothers / caregivers in poor areas of rural Limpopo and urban Gauteng - the NutriGro Study
Objectives. To determine the prevalence and immediate and underlying causes of stunting in black children aged 12 - 24 months living in rural and urban South Africa.
Design. A cross-sectional survey.
Setting. Two poor rural villages in Limpopo and two poor urban informal settlement areas in Atteridgeville, Gauteng. Population. All households with mothers / caregivers (M/Cs) of children aged 12 - 24 months in the selected areas. All households meeting the inclusion criteria in the urban areas (N = 380) and in the two rural villages (N = 156) were included in the sample.
Methods. Trained interviewers collected data using a standardised socio-demographic questionnaire. Heights and weights of M/Cs and their children were measured. Stunting was defined as a z-score less than -2 for height for age. Body mass index (BMI) values were calculated for the M/C. Data were analysed using a stepwise logistical regression analysis.
Results. A stunting rate of 18% was documented in the rural areas, with a difference of 8% between the two villages, and 19% in the urban areas. Statistically significant associations were found between low birth weight and stunting (p = 0.0073). Households with stunted children were significantly larger than households with non-stunted children (p = 0.0156). Stunted children were introduced to solid foods significantly earlier than non-stunted children (p = 0.0415).
Conclusions and recommendations. Similar prevalences of stunting were found in the urban and rural areas. Of the multifactorial causes of stunting, low birth weight, early complementary feeding and large household size were significantly associated with stunting. The data collected during this phase of the NutriGro Study will be the focus for all future community-based nutrition interventions.
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