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      Risk factors for childhood malnutrition in Roma settlements in Serbia

      , 1 , 2 , 3 , 4

      BMC Public Health

      BioMed Central

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          Abstract

          Background

          Children living in Roma settlements in Central and Eastern Europe face extreme levels of social exclusion and poverty, but their health status has not been well studied. The objective of this study was to elucidate risk factors for malnutrition in children in Roma settlements in Serbia.

          Methods

          Anthropometric and sociodemographic measures were obtained for 1192 Roma children under five living in Roma settlements from the 2005 Serbia Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey. Multiple logistic regression was used to relate family and child characteristics to the odds of stunting, wasting, and underweight.

          Results

          The prevalence of stunting, wasting, and underweight was 20.1%, 4.3%, and 8.0%, respectively. Nearly all of the children studied fell into the lowest quintile of wealth for the overall population of Serbia. Children in the lowest quintile of wealth were four times more likely to be stunted compared to those in the highest quintile, followed by those in the second lowest quintile (AOR = 2.1) and lastly by those in the middle quintile (AOR = 1.6). Children who were ever left in the care of an older child were almost twice as likely to stunted as those were not. Children living in urban settlements showed a clear disadvantage with close to three times the likelihood of being wasted compared to those living in rural areas. There was a suggestion that maternal, but not paternal, education was associated with stunting, and maternal literacy was significantly associated with wasting. Whether children were ever breastfed, immunized or had diarrhoeal episodes in the past two weeks did not show strong correlations to children malnutrition status in this Roma population.

          Conclusions

          There exists a gradient relationship between household wealth and stunting even within impoverished settlements, indicating that among poor and marginalized populations socioeconomic inequities in child health should be addressed. Other areas on which to focus future research and public health intervention include maternal literacy, child endangerment practices, and urban settlements.

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          Most cited references 15

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          Issues in the construction of wealth indices for the measurement of socio-economic position in low-income countries

          Background Epidemiological studies often require measures of socio-economic position (SEP). The application of principal components analysis (PCA) to data on asset-ownership is one popular approach to household SEP measurement. Proponents suggest that the approach provides a rational method for weighting asset data in a single indicator, captures the most important aspect of SEP for health studies, and is based on data that are readily available and/or simple to collect. However, the use of PCA on asset data may not be the best approach to SEP measurement. There remains concern that this approach can obscure the meaning of the final index and is statistically inappropriate for use with discrete data. In addition, the choice of assets to include and the level of agreement between wealth indices and more conventional measures of SEP such as consumption expenditure remain unclear. We discuss these issues, illustrating our examples with data from the Malawi Integrated Household Survey 2004–5. Methods Wealth indices were constructed using the assets on which data are collected within Demographic and Health Surveys. Indices were constructed using five weighting methods: PCA, PCA using dichotomised versions of categorical variables, equal weights, weights equal to the inverse of the proportion of households owning the item, and Multiple Correspondence Analysis. Agreement between indices was assessed. Indices were compared with per capita consumption expenditure, and the difference in agreement assessed when different methods were used to adjust consumption expenditure for household size and composition. Results All indices demonstrated similarly modest agreement with consumption expenditure. The indices constructed using dichotomised data showed strong agreement with each other, as did the indices constructed using categorical data. Agreement was lower between indices using data coded in different ways. The level of agreement between wealth indices and consumption expenditure did not differ when different consumption equivalence scales were applied. Conclusion This study questions the appropriateness of wealth indices as proxies for consumption expenditure. The choice of data included had a greater influence on the wealth index than the method used to weight the data. Despite the limitations of PCA, alternative methods also all had disadvantages.
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            Association of maternal stature with offspring mortality, underweight, and stunting in low- to middle-income countries.

            Although maternal stature has been associated with offspring mortality and health, the extent to which this association is universal across developing countries is unclear. To examine the association between maternal stature and offspring mortality, underweight, stunting, and wasting in infancy and early childhood in 54 low- to middle-income countries. Analysis of 109 Demographic and Health Surveys in 54 countries conducted between 1991 and 2008. Study population consisted of a nationally representative cross-sectional sample of children aged 0 to 59 months born to mothers aged 15 to 49 years. Sample sizes were 2,661,519 (mortality), 587,096 (underweight), 558,347 (stunting), and 568,609 (wasting) children. Likelihood of mortality, underweight, stunting, or wasting in children younger than 5 years. The mean response rate across surveys in the mortality data set was 92.8%. In adjusted models, a 1-cm increase in maternal height was associated with a decreased risk of child mortality (absolute risk difference [ARD], 0.0014; relative risk [RR], 0.988; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.987-0.988), underweight (ARD, 0.0068; RR, 0.968; 95% CI, 0.968-0.969), stunting (ARD, 0.0126; RR, 0.968; 95% CI, 0.967-0.968), and wasting (ARD, 0.0005; RR, 0.994; 95% CI, 0.993-0.995). Absolute risk of dying among children born to the tallest mothers (> or = 160 cm) was 0.073 (95% CI, 0.072-0.074) and to those born to the shortest mothers (< 145 cm) was 0.128 (95% CI, 0.126-0.130). Country-specific decrease in the risk for child mortality associated with a 1-cm increase in maternal height varied between 0.978 and 1.011, with the decreased risk being statistically significant in 46 of 54 countries (85%) (alpha = .05). Among 54 low- to middle-income countries, maternal stature was inversely associated with offspring mortality, underweight, and stunting in infancy and childhood.
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              Are urban children really healthier? Evidence from 47 developing countries.

              On average, child health outcomes are better in urban than in rural areas of developing countries. Understanding the nature and the causes of this rural-urban disparity is essential in contemplating the health consequences of the rapid urbanization taking place throughout the developing world and in targeting resources appropriately to raise population health. Using micro-data on child health taken from the most recent Demographic and Health Surveys for 47 developing countries, the purpose of this paper is threefold. First, we document the magnitude of rural-urban disparities in child nutritional status and under-5 mortality across all 47 developing countries. Second, we adjust these disparities for differences in population characteristics across urban and rural settings. Third, we examine rural-urban differences in the degree of socioeconomic inequality in these health outcomes. The results demonstrate that there are considerable rural-urban differences in mean child health outcomes in the entire developing world. The rural-urban gap in stunting does not entirely mirror the gap in under-5 mortality. The most striking difference between the two is in the Latin American and Caribbean region, where the gap in growth stunting is more than 1.5 times higher than that in mortality. On average, the rural-urban risk ratios of stunting and under-5 mortality fall by, respectively, 53% and 59% after controlling for household wealth. Controlling thereafter for socio-demographic factors reduces the risk ratios by another 22% and 25%. We confirm earlier findings of higher socioeconomic inequality in stunting in urban areas and demonstrate that this also holds for under-5 mortality. In a considerable number of countries, the urban poor actually have higher rates of stunting and mortality than their rural counterparts. The findings imply that there is a need for programs that target the urban poor, and that this is becoming more necessary as the size of the urban population grows.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BioMed Central
                1471-2458
                2010
                22 August 2010
                : 10
                : 509
                Affiliations
                [1 ]MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, Global Health Initiative,Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA
                [2 ]UNICEF, New York, NY, USA
                [3 ]Strategic Marketing Research Agency, Belgrade, Serbia
                [4 ]School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
                Article
                1471-2458-10-509
                10.1186/1471-2458-10-509
                2936427
                20727212
                Copyright ©2010 Janevic et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Research Article

                Public health

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