Original Research

The prevalence of underweight in children aged 5 years and younger attending primary health care clinics in the Mangaung area, Free State

Danae Koetaan, Andrea Smith, Anke Liebenberg, Marietjie Brits, Christos Halkas, Maresa Van Lill, Gina Joubert
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 10, No 1 | a1476 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v10i1.1476 | © 2018 Danae Koetaan, Andrea Smith, Anke Liebenberg, Marietjie Brits, Christos Halkas, Maresa Van Lill, Gina Joubert | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 April 2017 | Published: 28 May 2018

About the author(s)

Danae Koetaan, School of Medicine,University of the Free State, South Africa
Andrea Smith, School of Medicine, University of the Free State, South Africa
Anke Liebenberg, School of Medicine,University of the Free State, South Africa
Marietjie Brits, School of Medicine, University of the Free State, South Africa
Christos Halkas, School of Medicine, University of the Free State, South Africa
Maresa Van Lill, Department of Family Medicine, University of the Free State, South Africa
Gina Joubert, Department of Biostatistics, University of the Free State, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: The Constitution of South Africa stipulates that all children have the right to basic nutrition; however, a great number of South African children are underweight for age. It is important to address malnutrition as it is associated with more than 50% of all child deaths
in developing countries and also increases the risk for infective diseases.

Aim: To determine the prevalence of underweight in children aged 5 years and younger attending primary health care clinics in the Mangaung area, Free State, and determine the possible underlying causes thereof.

Setting: Six preselected primary health care clinics in the Mangaung area.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional study. Demographic and clinical information and anthropometric measurements were collected from the children’s Road-to-Health clinic cards,obtained from the children’s caregivers.

Results: In total, 240 children were included, of which 51.7% were girls. The median age was 7.5 months. The weight-for-age graph revealed that 7.7% (95% confidence interval: 4.8%;11.9%) of children were underweight or severely underweight for age. Length-for-age and weight-for-height graphs were mostly incomplete. Underweight children differed from normal weight children regarding birth weight (low birth weight 70.6% vs. 12.4%) and history of malnutrition (60.0% vs. 7.1%).

Conclusion: The prevalence of underweight in children aged 0–5 years attending primary health care clinics in Mangaung is 7.7% based on information available from Road-to-Health
cards. This figure could be higher if these cards were filled in more accurately. A low birth weight and history of malnutrition are associated with underweight.


Keywords

underweight; primary health care clinic; Mangaung; prevalence; underlying causes

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