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1.  Community Mobilization in Mumbai Slums to Improve Perinatal Care and Outcomes: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(7):e1001257.
David Osrin and colleagues report findings from a cluster-randomized trial conducted in Mumbai slums; the trial aimed to evaluate whether facilitator-supported women's groups could improve perinatal outcomes.
Introduction
Improving maternal and newborn health in low-income settings requires both health service and community action. Previous community initiatives have been predominantly rural, but India is urbanizing. While working to improve health service quality, we tested an intervention in which urban slum-dweller women's groups worked to improve local perinatal health.
Methods and Findings
A cluster randomized controlled trial in 24 intervention and 24 control settlements covered a population of 283,000. In each intervention cluster, a facilitator supported women's groups through an action learning cycle in which they discussed perinatal experiences, improved their knowledge, and took local action. We monitored births, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths, and interviewed mothers at 6 weeks postpartum. The primary outcomes described perinatal care, maternal morbidity, and extended perinatal mortality. The analysis included 18,197 births over 3 years from 2006 to 2009. We found no differences between trial arms in uptake of antenatal care, reported work, rest, and diet in later pregnancy, institutional delivery, early and exclusive breastfeeding, or care-seeking. The stillbirth rate was non-significantly lower in the intervention arm (odds ratio 0.86, 95% CI 0.60–1.22), and the neonatal mortality rate higher (1.48, 1.06–2.08). The extended perinatal mortality rate did not differ between arms (1.19, 0.90–1.57). We have no evidence that these differences could be explained by the intervention.
Conclusions
Facilitating urban community groups was feasible, and there was evidence of behaviour change, but we did not see population-level effects on health care or mortality. In cities with multiple sources of health care, but inequitable access to services, community mobilization should be integrated with attempts to deliver services for the poorest and most vulnerable, and with initiatives to improve quality of care in both public and private sectors.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN96256793
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Substantial progress is being made to reduce global child mortality (deaths of children before the age of 5 years) and maternal mortality (deaths among women because of complications of pregnancy and childbirth)—two of the Millennium Development Goals agreed by world leaders in 2000 to end extreme poverty. Even so, worldwide, in 2010, 7.6 million children died before their fifth birthday and there were nearly 360,000 maternal deaths. Almost all child and maternal deaths occur in developing countries—a fifth of under-five deaths and more than a quarter of neonatal deaths (deaths during the first month of life, which account for two-fifths of all child deaths) occur in India alone. Moreover, most child and maternal deaths are caused by avoidable conditions. Specifically, the major causes of neonatal death—complications of preterm delivery, breathing problems during or after delivery, and infections of the blood (sepsis) and lungs (pneumonia)—and of maternal deaths—hemorrhage (abnormal bleeding), sepsis, unsafe abortion, obstructed labor, and hypertensive diseases of pregnancy—could all be largely prevented by improved access to reproductive health services and skilled health care workers.
Why Was This Study Done?
Experts believe that improvements to maternal and newborn health in low-income settings require both health service strengthening and community action. That is, the demand for better services, driven by improved knowledge about maternal and newborn health (perinatal issues), has to be increased in parallel with the supply of those services. To date, community mobilization around perinatal issues has largely been undertaken in rural settings but populations in developing countries are becoming increasingly urban. In India, for example, 30% of the population now lives in cities. In this cluster randomized controlled trial (a study in which groups of people are randomly assigned to receive alternative interventions and the outcomes in the differently treated “clusters” are compared), City Initiative for Newborn Health (CINH) researchers investigate the effect of an intervention designed to help women's groups in the slums of Mumbai work towards improving local perinatal health. The CINH aims to improve maternal and newborn health in slum communities by improving public health care provision and by working with community members to improve maternal and newborn care practices and care-seeking behaviors.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled 48 Mumbai slum communities of at least 1,000 households into their trial. In each of the 24 intervention clusters, a facilitator supported local women's groups through a 36-meeting learning cycle during which group members discussed their perinatal experiences, improved their knowledge, and took action. To measure the effect of the intervention, the researchers monitored births, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths in all the clusters and interviewed mothers 6 weeks after delivery. During the 3-year trial, there were 18,197 births in the participating settlements. The women in the intervention clusters were enthusiastic about acquiring new knowledge and made substantial efforts to reach out to other women but were less successful in undertaking collective action such as negotiations with civic authorities for more amenities. There were no differences between the intervention and control communities in the uptake of antenatal care, reported work, rest, and diet in late pregnancy, institutional delivery, or in breast feeding and care-seeking behavior. Finally, the combined rate of stillbirths and neonatal deaths (the extended perinatal mortality rate) was the same in both arms of the trial, as was maternal mortality.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that it is possible to facilitate the discussion of perinatal health care by urban women's groups in the challenging conditions that exist in the slums of Mumbai. However, they fail to show any measureable effect of community mobilization through the facilitation of women's groups on perinatal health at the population level. The researchers acknowledge that more intensive community activities that target the poorest, most vulnerable slum dwellers might produce measurable effects on perinatal mortality, and they conclude that, in cities with multiple sources of health care and inequitable access to services, it remains important to integrate community mobilization with attempts to deliver services to the poorest and most vulnerable, and with initiatives to improve the quality of health care in both the public and private sector.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001257.
The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) works for children's rights, survival, development, and protection around the world; it provides information on the reduction of child mortality (Millennium Development Goal 4); its Childinfo website provides information about all the Millennium Development Goals and detailed statistics about on child survival and health, newborn care, and maternal health (some information in several languages)
The World Health Organization also has information about Millennium Development Goal 4 and Millennium Development Goal 5, the reduction of maternal mortality, provides information on newborn infants, and provides estimates of child mortality rates (some information in several languages)
Further information about the Millennium Development Goals is available
Information on the City Initiative for Newborn Health and its partners and a detailed description of its trial of community mobilization in Mumbai slums to improve care during pregnancy, delivery, postnatally and for the newborn are available
Further information about the Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action (SNEHA) is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001257
PMCID: PMC3389036  PMID: 22802737
2.  The Double Burden of Obesity and Malnutrition in a Protracted Emergency Setting: A Cross-Sectional Study of Western Sahara Refugees 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(10):e1001320.
Surveying women and children from refugee camps in Algeria, Carlos Grijalva-Eternod and colleagues find high rates of obesity among women as well as many undernourished children, and that almost a quarter of households are affected by both undernutrition and obesity.
Background
Households from vulnerable groups experiencing epidemiological transitions are known to be affected concomitantly by under-nutrition and obesity. Yet, it is unknown to what extent this double burden affects refugee populations dependent on food assistance. We assessed the double burden of malnutrition among Western Sahara refugees living in a protracted emergency.
Methods and Findings
We implemented a stratified nutrition survey in October–November 2010 in the four Western Sahara refugee camps in Algeria. We sampled 2,005 households, collecting anthropometric measurements (weight, height, and waist circumference) in 1,608 children (6–59 mo) and 1,781 women (15–49 y). We estimated the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM), stunting, underweight, and overweight in children; and stunting, underweight, overweight, and central obesity in women. To assess the burden of malnutrition within households, households were first classified according to the presence of each type of malnutrition. Households were then classified as undernourished, overweight, or affected by the double burden if they presented members with under-nutrition, overweight, or both, respectively.
The prevalence of GAM in children was 9.1%, 29.1% were stunted, 18.6% were underweight, and 2.4% were overweight; among the women, 14.8% were stunted, 53.7% were overweight or obese, and 71.4% had central obesity. Central obesity (47.2%) and overweight (38.8%) in women affected a higher proportion of households than did GAM (7.0%), stunting (19.5%), or underweight (13.3%) in children. Overall, households classified as overweight (31.5%) were most common, followed by undernourished (25.8%), and then double burden–affected (24.7%).
Conclusions
The double burden of obesity and under-nutrition is highly prevalent in households among Western Sahara refugees. The results highlight the need to focus more attention on non-communicable diseases in this population and balance obesity prevention and management with interventions to tackle under-nutrition.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Good nutrition is essential for human health and survival. Insufficient food intake causes under-nutrition, which increases susceptibility to infections; intake of too much or inappropriate food, in particular in interaction with sedentary behaviour, can lead to obesity, which increases the risk of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes. During the past 30 years, the prevalence (the proportion of a population affected by a condition) of obesity has greatly increased, initially among adults in industrialized countries, but more recently among children and in less-affluent populations. Now, worldwide, overweight people outnumber under-nourished people. Furthermore, some populations are affected by both under-nutrition and obesity, forms of malnutrition that occur when the diet is suboptimal for health. So, for example, a child can be both stunted (short for his or her age, an indicator of long-term under-nutrition) and overweight (too heavy for his or her age). The emergence of this double burden of malnutrition has been attributed to the nutrition transition—the rapid move because of migration or urbanization to a lifestyle characterized by low levels of physical activity and high consumption of refined, energy-dense foods—without complete elimination of under-nutrition.
Why Was This Study Done?
Refugees are one group of people in whom under-nutrition and obesity sometimes coexist. Worldwide, in 2010, 15.4 million refugees were dependent on host governments and international humanitarian agencies for their food security and well-being. It is essential that these governments and organizations provide appropriate food assistance programs to refugees—policies that are appropriate during acute emergencies may not be appropriate in protracted emergencies and may contribute to the emergence of the double burden of malnutrition among refugees. Unfortunately, the extent to which the double burden of malnutrition affects refugees in protracted emergencies is unknown. In this cross-sectional study (an investigation that looks at the characteristics of a population at a single time), the researchers assessed the double burden of malnutrition among people from Western Sahara who have been living in four refugee camps near Tindouf city, Algeria, since 1975.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used data from a 2010 survey that measured the height and weight of children and the height, weight, and waist circumference of women living in 2,005 households in the Algerian refugee camps. For the children, they estimated the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (which includes thin, “wasted” children, as indicated by a low weight for height based on the World Health Organization growth standards, and those with nutritional oedema), stunting, and underweight and overweight (low and high weight for age and gender, respectively). For the women, they estimated the prevalence of stunting, underweight (body mass index less than 18.5 kg/m2), overweight (body mass index greater than 25 kg/m2), and central obesity (a waist circumference of more than 80 cm). Among the children, 9.1% had global acute malnutrition, 29.1% were stunted, 8.6% were underweight, and 2.4% were overweight. Among the women, 14.8% were stunted, 53.7% were overweight, and 71.4% had central obesity. Notably, central obesity and overweight in women affected more households than global acute malnutrition, stunting, and underweight in children. Finally, based on whether a household included members with under-nutrition or overweight, alone or in combination, the researchers classified a third of households as overweight, a quarter as undernourished, and a quarter as affected by the double burden of malnutrition.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that there is a high prevalence of the double burden of malnutrition among households in Western Saharan refugee camps in Algeria. Although this study provides no information on men and does not investigate whether the obesity seen in these camps leads to an increased risk of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases, these findings have several important implications for the provision of food assistance and care for protracted humanitarian emergencies. For example, they highlight the need to promote long-term food security and to improve nutrition adequacy and food diversity in protracted emergencies. In addition, they suggest that current food assistance programs that are suitable for acute emergencies may not be suitable for extended emergencies. They also highlight the need to focus more attention on non-communicable diseases in refugee camps and to develop innovative ways to provide obesity prevention and management in these settings. However, as the researchers stress, careful policy and advocacy work is essential to ensure that efforts to deal with the threat of obesity among refugees do not jeopardize support for life-saving food assistance programs for refugees.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001320.
Wikipedia provides background information about the Western Sahara refugee camps near Tindouf, Algeria (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of nutrition and obesity (in several languages)
The United Nations World Food Programme is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide; its website provides detailed information about hunger and information about its work in the Western Sahara refugee camps in Algeria, including personal stories and photographs of food distribution
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is the United Nations body mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide; its website provides detailed information about its work in the Western Sahara refugee camps in Algeria
Oxfam also provides detailed information about its work in the Algerian refugee camps, a description of the camps, and personal stories from people living in the camps
An article published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations explains the double burden of malnutrition
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001320
PMCID: PMC3462761  PMID: 23055833
3.  Effect of mother’s education on child’s nutritional status in the slums of Nairobi 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:80.
Background
Malnutrition continues to be a critical public health problem in sub-Saharan Africa. For example, in East Africa, 48 % of children under-five are stunted while 36 % are underweight. Poor health and poor nutrition are now more a characteristic of children living in the urban areas than of children in the rural areas. This is because the protective mechanism offered by the urban advantage in the past; that is, the health benefits that historically accrued to residents of cities as compared to residents in rural settings is being eroded due to increasing proportion of urban residents living in slum settings. This study sought to determine effect of mother’s education on child nutritional status of children living in slum settings.
Methods
Data are from a maternal and child health project nested within the Nairobi Urban Health and Demographic Surveillance System (NUHDSS). The study involves 5156 children aged 0–42 months. Data on nutritional status used were collected between October 2009 and January 2010. We used binomial and multiple logistic regression to estimate the effect of education in the univariable and multivariable models respectively.
Results
Results show that close to 40 % of children in the study are stunted. Maternal education is a strong predictor of child stunting with some minimal attenuation of the association by other factors at maternal, household and community level. Other factors including at child level: child birth weight and gender; maternal level: marital status, parity, pregnancy intentions, and health seeking behaviour; and household level: social economic status are also independently significantly associated with stunting.
Conclusion
Overall, mothers’ education persists as a strong predictor of child’s nutritional status in urban slum settings, even after controlling for other factors. Given that stunting is a strong predictor of human capital, emphasis on girl-child education may contribute to breaking the poverty cycle in urban poor settings.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-12-80
PMCID: PMC3444953  PMID: 22721431
Education; Child stunting; Health; Urban slum; Kenya
4.  Prevalence and correlates of smoking among urban adult men in Bangladesh: slum versus non-slum comparison 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:149.
Background
Smoking is one of the leading causes of premature death particularly in developing countries. The prevalence of smoking is high among the general male population in Bangladesh. Unfortunately smoking information including correlates of smoking in the cities especially in the urban slums is very scarce, although urbanization is rapid in Bangladesh and slums are growing quickly in its major cities. Therefore this study reported prevalences of cigarette and bidi smoking and their correlates separately by urban slums and non-slums in Bangladesh.
Methods
We used secondary data which was collected by the 2006 Urban Health Survey. The data were representative for the urban areas in Bangladesh. Both slums and non-slums located in the six City Corporations were considered. Slums in the cities were identified by two steps, first by using the satellite images and secondly by ground truthing. At the next stage, several clusters of households were selected by using proportional sampling. Then from each of the selected clusters, about 25 households were randomly selected. Information of a total of 12,155 adult men, aged 15–59 years, was analyzed by stratifying them into slum (= 6,488) and non-slum (= 5,667) groups. Simple frequency, bivariable and multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed using SPSS.
Results
Overall smoking prevalence for the total sample was 53.6% with significantly higher prevalences among men in slums (59.8%) than non-slums (46.4%). Respondents living in slums reported a significantly (P < 0.001) higher prevalence of smoking cigarettes (53.3%) as compared to those living in non-slums (44.6%). A similar pattern was found for bidis (slums = 11.4% and non-slums = 3.2%, P < 0.001). Multivariable logistic regression revealed significantly higher odds ratio (OR) of smoking cigarettes (OR = 1.12, 95% CI = 1.03–1.22), bidis (OR = 1.90, 95% CI = 1.58–2.29) and any of the two (OR = 1.23, 95% CI = 1.13–1.34) among men living in slums as compared to those living in non-slums when controlled for age, division, education, marital status, religion, birth place and types of work. Division, education and types of work were the common significant correlates for both cigarette and bidi smoking in slums and non-slums by multivariable logistic regressions. Other significant correlates of smoking cigarettes were marital status (both areas), birth place (slums), and religion (non-slums). Similarly significant factors for smoking bidis were age (both areas), marital status (slums), religion (non-slums), and birth place (both areas).
Conclusion
The men living in the urban slums reported higher rates of smoking cigarettes and bidis as compared to men living in the urban non-slums. Some of the significant correlates of smoking e.g. education and division should be considered for prevention activities. Our findings clearly underscore the necessity of interventions and preventions by policy makers, public health experts and other stakeholders in slums because smoking was more prevalent in the slum communities with detrimental health sequelae.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-149
PMCID: PMC2705350  PMID: 19463157
5.  Protein Energy Malnutrition in India: The Plight of Our Under Five Children 
Protein energy malnutrition (PEM) is a major public health problem in India. This affects the child at the most crucial period of time of development, which can lead to permanent impairment in later life. PEM is measured in terms of underweight (low weight for age), stunting (low height for age) and wasting (low weight for height). The prevalence of stunting among under five is 48% and wasting is 19.8% and with an underweight prevalence of 42.5%, it is the highest in the world. Undernutrition predisposes the child to infection and complements its effect in contributing to child mortality. Lalonde model (1974) is used to look into the various determinants of PEM in under five children and its interrelation in causation of PEM. The determinants of PEM are broadly classified under four distinct categories: Environmental factors including the physical and social environment, behavioral factors, health-care service related and biological factors. The socio-cultural factors play an important role wherein, it affects the attitude of the care giver in feeding and care practices. Faulty feeding practice in addition to poor nutritional status of the mother further worsens the situation. The vicious cycle of poor nutritional status of the mother leading to low birth weight child further exposes the child to susceptibility to infections which aggravates the situation. However, it is seen that percapita income of the family did not have much bearing on the poor nutritional status of the child rather lack of proper health-care services adversely contributed to poor nutritional status of the child. PEM is a critical problem with many determinants playing a role in causing this vicious cycle of undernutrition. With almost half of under five children undernourished in India, the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the prevalence of underweight by 2015 seems a distant dream.
doi:10.4103/2249-4863.130279
PMCID: PMC4005205  PMID: 24791240
India; protein energy malnutrition; under five children; undernutrition
6.  Burden of Giardia duodenalis Infection and Its Adverse Effects on Growth of Schoolchildren in Rural Malaysia 
Background
Giardia duodenalis infection and malnutrition are still considered as public health problems in many developing countries especially among children in rural communities. This study was carried out among Aboriginal (Orang Asli) primary schoolchildren in rural peninsular Malaysia to investigate the burden and the effects of Giardia infection on growth (weight and height) of the children.
Methods/Findings
Weight and height of 374 children aged 7–12 years were assessed before and after treatment of Giardia infection. The children were screened for Giardia parasite using trichrome staining technique. Demographic and socioeconomic data were collected via face-to-face interviews using a pre-tested questionnaire. Overall, 22.2% (83/374) of the children were found to be infected with Giardia. Nutritional status of children was assessed and the results showed that the mean weight and height were 23.9 kg (95% CI = 23.3, 24.5) and 126.6 cm (95% CI = 125.6, 127.5), respectively. Overall, the prevalence of severe underweight, stunting and wasting were 28.3%, 23.8% and 21.0%, respectively. Multiple linear regression analyses showed sex, Giardia infection and household monthly income as the significant determinants of weight while sex and level of mother's education were the significant determinants of height. Weight and height were assessed at 3 and 6 months after treatment of Giardia infection. It was found that Giardia infection has a significant association with the weight of children but not with height.
Conclusions/Significance
This study reveals high prevalence of Giardia infection and malnutrition among Aboriginal children in rural Malaysia and clearly highlights an urgent need to identify integrated measures to control these health problems in the rural communities. Essentially, proper attention should be given to the control of Giardia infection in Aboriginal communities as this constitutes one of the strategies to improve the nutritional status of Aboriginal children.
Author Summary
Giardia infection, a neglected infection caused by the protozoan parasite Giardia duodenalis is prevalent worldwide especially among young children in rural areas of the tropics and subtropics. In Malaysia, Giardia infection and protein-energy malnutrition coexist in Aboriginal (Orang Asli) communities with high prevalence among school-aged children. We screened 374 schoolchildren in Lipis and Raub districts, Pahang, Malaysia for the presence of Giardia infection and investigated the effects of this infection on the growth of children. Overall, 22.2% of the children studied were infected with Giardia. Nutritional status of children was assessed and we found that the prevalence of severe underweight, stunting and wasting were 28.3%, 23.8% and 21.0%, respectively. Giardia infection was identified as a significant determinant of weight among these children. Moreover, it was found that Giardia infection has a significant association with the weight of children but not with height. The control of Giardia infection should be given prominence as it is one of the strategies to enhance the nutritional status of Aboriginal children.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002516
PMCID: PMC3814875  PMID: 24205426
7.  Contribution of Enteric Infection, Altered Intestinal Barrier Function, and Maternal Malnutrition to Infant Malnutrition in Bangladesh 
Children born malnourished had more infections with Entamoeba histolytica, enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli, and Cryptosporidium. Conversely, malnutrition was preceded by prolonged diarrhea and altered intestinal barrier function. These studies demonstrate the potential for nutritional interventions based on treatment or prevention of enteric infections.
Background. Malnourished children are at increased risk for death due to diarrhea. Our goal was to determine the contribution of specific enteric infections to malnutrition-associated diarrhea and to determine the role of enteric infections in the development of malnutrition.
Methods. Children from an urban slum in Bangladesh were followed for the first year of life by every-other-day home visits. Enteropathogens were identified in diarrheal and monthly surveillance stools; intestinal barrier function was measured by serum endocab antibodies; and nutritional status was measured by anthropometry.
Results. Diarrhea occurred 4.69 ± 0.19 times per child per year, with the most common infections caused by enteric protozoa (amebiasis, cryptosporidiosis, and giardiasis), rotavirus, astrovirus, and enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC). Malnutrition was present in 16.3% of children at birth and 42.4% at 12 months of age. Children malnourished at birth had increased Entamoeba histolytica, Cryptosporidium, and ETEC infections and more severe diarrhea. Children who became malnourished by 12 months of age were more likely to have prolonged diarrhea, intestinal barrier dysfunction, a mother without education, and low family expenditure.
Conclusions. Prospective observation of infants in an urban slum demonstrated that diarrheal diseases were associated with the development of malnutrition that was in turn linked to intestinal barrier disruption and that diarrhea was more severe in already malnourished children. The enteric protozoa were unexpectedly important causes of diarrhea in this setting. This study demonstrates the complex interrelationship of malnutrition and diarrhea in infants in low-income settings and points to the potential for infectious disease interventions in the prevention and treatment of malnutrition.
doi:10.1093/cid/cir807
PMCID: PMC3245731  PMID: 22109945
8.  The Waist Circumference Measurement: A Simple Method for Assessing the Abdominal Obesity 
Introduction
Excess abdominal fat is an independent predictor of the risk factors and the morbidity of obesity related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidaemia and cardiovascular diseases. The Waist Circumference (WC) is positively correlated with the abdominal fat. Hence, the waist circumference is a valuable, convenient and a simple measurement method which can be used for identifying the individuals who are at an increased risk for the above mentioned diseases.
Objectives
To assess the abdominal obesity by measuring the waist circumference among the women who were aged 20 years and above in an urban slum of Chennai, India.To identify the socio -demographic factors which were associated with the abdominal obesity in the above study population.
Settings and Design
A community based and a cross sectional study was carried out in an urban slum of Chennai, India.
Methods and Materials
The present study was undertaken in an urban slum of Chennai city, among the women who were aged 20 years and above. One slum was selected randomly and the households in the slum were sampled by a systematic random sampling method. A pre-designed and a pre-tested questionnaire was used to collect the information regarding the socio-demographic profile of the women. Their waist circumference was measured by using a flexible inch tape. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) and the International Association for the Study of Obesity (IASO)(2000), the following cut off values for the waist circumference were used to assess the abdominal obesity for women: WC<80cms – normal and WC ≥ 80cms-abdominal obesity.
Statistical Analysis
It was done by using the Statistical Package For Social Science (SPSS ), version 11.5. The prevalence was expressed in percentage and the Chi square test was used to find its association with the factors.
Results
In the study population, the prevalence of abdominal obesity (WC ≥ 80 cms) was 29.8% (95% Confidence Interval [CI] 25.9–34 %). A significant association was found between the age, religion, a higher socio-economic status and the abdominal obesity. No significant association was noted between the educational status, occupation, marital status, type of family and the abdominal obesity.
Conclusion
Abdominal obesity among the urban slum women is on the rise. The abdominal obesity was found to be significantly higher among the slum women with increasing age and in those who belonged to the muslim religion and to a higher socio-economic status.
doi:10.7860/JCDR/2012/4379.2545
PMCID: PMC3527782  PMID: 23285442
Waist circumference; Abdominal Obesity; slum women
9.  Impact Monitoring of the National Scale Up of Zinc Treatment for Childhood Diarrhea in Bangladesh: Repeat Ecologic Surveys 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(11):e1000175.
Charles Larson and colleagues find that 23 months into a national campaign to scale up zinc treatment for diarrhea in children under age 5 years, only 10% of children with diarrhea in rural areas and 20%–25% in urban/municipal areas were getting the treatment.
Background
Zinc treatment of childhood diarrhea has the potential to save 400,000 under-five lives per year in lesser developed countries. In 2004 the World Health Organization (WHO)/UNICEF revised their clinical management of childhood diarrhea guidelines to include zinc. The aim of this study was to monitor the impact of the first national campaign to scale up zinc treatment of childhood diarrhea in Bangladesh.
Methods/Findings
Between September 2006 to October 2008 seven repeated ecologic surveys were carried out in four representative population strata: mega-city urban slum and urban nonslum, municipal, and rural. Households of approximately 3,200 children with an active or recent case of diarrhea were enrolled in each survey round. Caretaker awareness of zinc as a treatment for childhood diarrhea by 10 mo following the mass media launch was attained in 90%, 74%, 66%, and 50% of urban nonslum, municipal, urban slum, and rural populations, respectively. By 23 mo into the campaign, approximately 25% of urban nonslum, 20% of municipal and urban slum, and 10% of rural under-five children were receiving zinc for the treatment of diarrhea. The scale-up campaign had no adverse effect on the use of oral rehydration salt (ORS).
Conclusions
Long-term monitoring of scale-up programs identifies important gaps in coverage and provides the information necessary to document that intended outcomes are being attained and unintended consequences avoided. The scale-up of zinc treatment of childhood diarrhea rapidly attained widespread awareness, but actual use has lagged behind. Disparities in zinc coverage favoring higher income, urban households were identified, but these were gradually diminished over the two years of follow-up monitoring. The scale up campaign has not had any adverse effect on the use of ORS.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Diarrheal disease is a significant global health problem with approximately 4 billion cases and 2.5 million deaths annually. The overwhelming majority of cases are in developing countries where there is a particularly high death rate among children under five years of age. Diarrhea is caused by bacterial, parasitic, or viral pathogens, which often spread in contaminated water. Poor hygiene and sanitation, malnutrition, and lack of medical care all contribute to the burden of this disease. Replacing lost fluids and salts is a cheap and effective method to rehydrate people following dehydration caused by diarrhea. Clinical trials show that zinc, as part of a treatment for childhood diarrhea, not only helps to reduce the severity and duration of diarrhea but also reduces the likelihood of a repeat episode in the future. Zinc is now included in the guidelines by the World Health Organization (WHO)/UNICEF for treatment of childhood diarrhea.
Why Was This Study Done?
Zinc treatment together with traditional oral rehydration salts therapy following episodes of diarrhea could potentially benefit millions of children in areas where diarrheal disease is prevalent. The “Scaling Up of Zinc for Young Children” (SUZY) project was established in 2003 to provide zinc treatment for diarrhea in all children under five years of age in Bangladesh. The project was supported by a partnership of public, private, nongovernmental organization, and multinational sector agencies during its scale up to a national campaign across Bangladesh. The partners helped to develop the scale-up campaign, produce and distribute zinc tablets, train health professionals to provide zinc treatment, and create media campaigns (such as advertisements in TV, radio, and newspapers) to raise awareness and promote the use of zinc for diarrhea. The researchers wanted to monitor how effective and successful the national campaign was at promoting zinc treatment for childhood diarrhea. Also, they wanted to highlight any potential problems during the implementation of health care initiatives in areas with deprived health systems.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers set up survey sites to monitor results from the first two years of the SUZY campaign. Four areas, each representing different segments of the population across Bangladesh were surveyed; urban slums, urban nonslums, municipal (small city), and rural. There are approximately 1.5 million children under the age of five across these sites. Households in each survey site were selected at random, and seven surveys were conducted at each site between September 2006 and October 2008—about 3,200 children with diarrhea for each survey. Over 90% of parents used private sector providers of drug treatment so the campaign focused on distribution of zinc tablets in the private sector. They were also available free of charge in the public health sector. TV and radio campaigns for zinc treatment rapidly raised awareness across Bangladesh. Awareness was less than 10% in all communities prelaunch and peaked 10 months later at 90%, 74%, 66%, and 50% in urban nonslum, municipal, urban slum, and rural sites, respectively. However, after 23 months only 25% of urban nonslum, 20% of municipal and urban slum, and 10% of rural children under five years of age were actually using zinc for childhood diarrhea. Use of zinc was shown to be safe, with few side-effects, and did not affect the use of traditional treatments for diarrhea. Researchers also found that many children were not given the correct ten-day course of treatment; 50% of parents were sold seven or fewer zinc tablets.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that the first national campaign promoting zinc treatment for childhood diarrhea in Bangladesh has had some success. Addition of zinc tablets for diarrhea treatment did not interfere with existing therapies. Mass media campaigns, using TV and radio, were useful for promoting health care initiatives nationwide alongside the education of health care providers and care-givers. The study also identified areas where more work is needed. Surveys in more remote, hard to reach sites in Bangladesh would provide better representation of the country as a whole. High awareness of zinc did not translate into high use. Repeated surveying in the same subdistricts may have overestimated actual awareness levels. Furthermore, mass media messages must link with messages from health care providers to help to reinforce and promote understanding of the use of zinc. A change in focus of media messages from awareness to promoting household decision-making may aid the adoption of zinc treatment for childhood diarrhea and improve adherence.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000175
The International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh Web site has information about the study
The World Health Organisation provides information on diarrhea
The study was sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000175
PMCID: PMC2765636  PMID: 19888335
10.  Prevalence and determinants of unintended pregnancy among women in Nairobi, Kenya 
Background
The prevalence of unintended pregnancy in Kenya continues to be high. The 2003 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) showed that nearly 50% of unmarried women aged 15–19 and 45% of the married women reported their current pregnancies as mistimed or unwanted. The 2008–09 KDHS showed that 43% of married women in Kenya reported their current pregnancies were unintended. Unintended pregnancy is one of the most critical factors contributing to schoolgirl drop out in Kenya. Up to 13,000 Kenyan girls drop out of school every year as a result of unintended pregnancy. Unsafe pregnancy termination contributes immensely to maternal mortality which currently estimated at 488 deaths per 100 000 live births. In Kenya, the determinants of prevalence and determinants of unintended pregnancy among women in diverse social and economic situations, particularly in urban areas, are poorly understood due to lack of data. This paper addresses the prevalence and the determinants of unintended pregnancy among women in slum and non-slum settlements of Nairobi.
Methods
This study used the data that was collected among a random sample of 1262 slum and non-slum women aged 15–49 years in Nairobi. The data was analyzed using simple percentages and logistic regression.
Results
The study found that 24 percent of all the women had unintended pregnancy. The prevalence of unintended pregnancy was 21 per cent among women in slum settlements compared to 27 per cent among those in non-slum settlements. Marital status, employment status, ethnicity and type of settlement were significantly associated with unintended pregnancy. Logistic analysis results indicate that age, marital status and type of settlement had statistically significantly effects on unintended pregnancy. Young women aged 15–19 were significantly more likely than older women to experience unintended pregnancy. Similarly, unmarried women showed elevated risk for unintended pregnancy than ever-married women. Women in non-slum settlements were significantly more likely to experience unintended pregnancy than their counterparts in slum settlements.
The determinants of unintended pregnancy differed between women in each type of settlement. Among slum women, age, parity and marital status each had significant net effect on unintended pregnancy. But for non-slum women, it was marital status and ethnicity that had significant net effects.
Conclusion
The study found a high prevalence of unintended pregnancy among the study population and indicated that young and unmarried women, irrespective of their educational attainment and household wealth status, have a higher likelihood of experiencing unintended pregnancy. Except for the results on educational attainments and household wealth, these results compared well with the results reported in the literature.
The results indicate the need for effective programs and strategies to increase access to contraceptive services and related education, information and communication among the study population, particularly among the young and unmarried women. Increased access to family planning services is key to reducing unintended pregnancy among the study population. This calls for concerted efforts by all the stakeholders to improve access to family planning services among the study population. Increased access should be accompanied with improvement in the quality of care and availability of information about effective utilization of family planning methods.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-69
PMCID: PMC3607892  PMID: 23510090
Unintended pregnancy; Determinants; Slum; Non-slum settlements; Urban; Nairobi; Kenya
11.  Methane production and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in children living in a slum 
AIM: To analyze small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in school-aged children and the relationship between hydrogen and methane production in breath tests.
METHODS: This transversal study included 85 children residing in a slum and 43 children from a private school, all aged between 6 and 10 years, in Osasco, Brazil. For characterization of the groups, data regarding the socioeconomic status and basic housing sanitary conditions were collected. Anthropometric data was obtained in children from both groups. All children completed the hydrogen (H2) and methane (CH4) breath test in order to assess small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). SIBO was diagnosed when there was an increase in H2 ≥ 20 ppm or CH4 ≥ 10 ppm with regard to the fasting value until 60 min after lactulose ingestion.
RESULTS: Children from the slum group had worse living conditions and lower nutritional indices than children from the private school. SIBO was found in 30.9% (26/84) of the children from the slum group and in 2.4% (1/41) from the private school group (P = 0.0007). Greater hydrogen production in the small intestine was observed in children from the slum group when compared to children from the private school (P = 0.007). A higher concentration of hydrogen in the small intestine (P < 0.001) and in the colon (P < 0.001) was observed among the children from the slum group with SIBO when compared to children from the slum group without SIBO. Methane production was observed in 63.1% (53/84) of the children from the slum group and in 19.5% (8/41) of the children from the private school group (P < 0.0001). Methane production was observed in 38/58 (65.5%) of the children without SIBO and in 15/26 (57.7%) of the children with SIBO from the slum. Colonic production of hydrogen was lower in methane-producing children (P = 0.017).
CONCLUSION: Children who live in inadequate environmental conditions are at risk of bacterial overgrowth and methane production. Hydrogen is a substrate for methane production in the colon.
doi:10.3748/wjg.v18.i41.5932
PMCID: PMC3491601  PMID: 23139610
Bacterial overgrowth; Breath test; Children; Colon; Hydrogen; Methane; Small intestine
12.  Gender inequality and bio-social factors in nutritional status among under five children attending anganwadis in an urban slum of a town in Western Maharashtra, India 
Nutrition for under-5 children is of great importance as the foundation for life-time health, strength, and intellectual vitality is laid during this period. Globally, more than one-third of the child deaths are attributable to under-nutrition. The discriminatory attitudes against female children vary from being implicit to those that are quite explicit. So, the present cross-sectional study aims to assess the nutritional status (gender differences) of 146 under-5 children attending Anganwadis and also to study the bio-socio-demographic factors associated with malnutrition attending three Anganwadis of Adopted Urban slum area, involving anthropometric examination using standardized techniques and interview using predesigned semi-structured questionnaire for the mothers in September-October 2011. Nutritional status grading was done based on weight for age as per Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) Classification and using height for age as per Vishveshwara Rao's Classification. 51.4% were males, majority in age group of 2-3 years. 63% children were malnourished, majority in Grade I malnutrition. Out of the total females, 72% were stunted and 43% were severely malnourished having mid arm circumference <12.5 cm. Birth order (P < 0.05), education status of the mother (P < 0.001), socio-economic status (P < 0.05) and type of family (P < 0.05) were found to be significantly associated with malnutrition.
PMCID: PMC3793383  PMID: 24124435
Nutritional status; under-5 children; urban slum; Western Maharashtra
13.  All Slums are Not Equal: Maternal Health Conditions Among Two Urban Slum Dwellers 
Background:
Pregnant women inhabiting urban slums are a “high risk” group with limited access to health facilities. Hazardous maternal health practices are rampant in slum areas. Barriers to utilization of health services are well documented. Slums in the same city may differ from one another in their health indicators and service utilization rates. The study examines whether hazardous maternal care practices exist in and whether there are differences in the utilization rates of health services in two different slums.
Materials and Methods:
A cross-sectional study was carried out in two urban slums of Aligarh city (Uttar Pradesh, India). House-to-house survey was conducted and 200 mothers having live births in the study period were interviewed. The outcome measures were utilization of antenatal care, natal care, postnatal care, and early infant feeding practices. Rates of hazardous health practices and reasons for these practices were elicited.
Results:
Hazardous maternal health practices were common. At least one antenatal visit was accepted by a little more than half the mothers, but delivery was predominantly home based carried out under unsafe conditions. Important barriers to utilization included family tradition, financial constraints, and rude behavior of health personnel in hospitals. Significant differences existed between the two slums.
Conclusion:
The fact that barriers to utilization at a local level may differ significantly between slums must be recognized, identified, and addressed in the district level planning for health. Empowerment of slum communities as one of the stakeholders can lend them a stronger voice and help improve access to services.
doi:10.4103/0970-0218.94027
PMCID: PMC3326809  PMID: 22529541
Barriers to utilization; hazardous delivery practices; maternal health; urban slums
14.  Community Based Maternal and Child Health Nutrition Project, Uttar Pradesh: An Innovative Strategy Focusing on “At Risk” Families 
Research Question:
Use of community based volunteers, frequently reaching and counseling a selected group of prioritized families, can make a substantial difference in improving maternal and child care practices and in reducing child undernutrition.
Setting:
Program Rural Uttar Pradesh, India.
Study Design:
A comparison of baseline and endline surveys following 4 years of community based project intervention
Participants:
“At risk” undernutrition families comprising mothers of under twos, newlyweds, and severely undernourished children below 6 years.
Intervention:
Mapping and counseling of “at risk” families. Measuring impact on maternal-child care practices, underweight status.
Results:
Trained community mobilizers identified and counseled selected “at risk” families. Following 4 years of implementation in 907 villages of 8 blocks of four districts, significant improvement was noted in practices of early initiation of breastfeeding, feeding colostrum, timely introduction of complementary feeding, and washing the hands after defecation. Percentage of mothers exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months was only 2.1% with 78% receiving prelacteal feeds. A small increase in normal and mild malnutrition and a significant reduction of 43% in severe malnutrition was noted.
Conclusion:
Frequently counseling by accredited social health activists by focusing on selected defined “at risk” families of under twos and those with severe malnourished children could result in increasing acceptability of correct child health, feeding, and care practices and in contributing to improving nutritional status scenario.
doi:10.4103/0970-0218.120159
PMCID: PMC3831694  PMID: 24302825
Accredited social health activists; at risk families; child feeding practices; community volunteers; inter-personal counseling; severe malnutrition; undernutrition
15.  A case-control study of maternal knowledge of malnutrition and health-care-seeking attitudes in rural South India. 
INTRODUCTION: In India, approximately 20 percent of children under the age of four suffer from severe malnutrition, while half of all the children suffer from undernutrition. The contributions of knowledge and attitudes of nutrition-conscious behaviors of the mothers to childhood malnutrition has been unclear. The purpose of this study was to explore maternal knowledge of the causes of malnutrition, health-care-seeking attitudes and socioeconomic risk factors in relation to children's nutritional status in rural south India. METHODS: A case-controlled study was conducted in a rural area in Tamil Nadu, India. Thirty-four cases and 34 controls were selected from the population of approximately 97,000 by using the local hospital's list of young children. A case was defined as a mother of a severely malnourished child under four years of age. Severe malnutrition was defined as having less than 60 percent of expected median weight-for-age. A control had a well-nourished child and was matched by the location and the age of the child. Interviews obtained: (1) socioeconomic information on the family, (2) knowledge of the cause of malnutrition and (3) health-care-seeking attitudes for common childhood illnesses, including malnutrition. RESULTS: Poor nutritional status was associated with socioeconomic variables such as sex of the child and father's occupation. Female gender (OR = 3.44, p = .02) and father's occupation as a laborer (OR = 2.98, p = .05) were significant risk factors for severe malnutrition. The two groups showed a significant difference in nutrition-related knowledge of mild mixed malnutrition (OR = 2.62, p = .05). No significant difference was apparent in health-care-seeking attitudes. Based on their traditional beliefs, the mothers did not believe that medical care was an appropriate intervention for childhood illnesses such as malnutrition or measles. DISCUSSION: The results suggested that the gender of the child and socioeconomic factors were stronger risk factors for malnutrition than health-care availability and health-care-seeking attitudes. The father's occupation was a more accurate indicator for malnutrition than household income. These results suggest a need for intensive nutritional programs targeted toward poor female children and their mothers.
PMCID: PMC2589065  PMID: 9493847
16.  The Effect of Adding Ready-to-Use Supplementary Food to a General Food Distribution on Child Nutritional Status and Morbidity: A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(9):e1001313.
Lieven Huybregts and colleagues investigate how supplementing a general food distribution with a fortified lipid-based spread during a seasonal hunger gap in Chad affects anthropometric and morbidity outcomes for children aged 6 to 36 months.
Background
Recently, operational organizations active in child nutrition in developing countries have suggested that blanket feeding strategies be adopted to enable the prevention of child wasting. A new range of nutritional supplements is now available, with claims that they can prevent wasting in populations at risk of periodic food shortages. Evidence is lacking as to the effectiveness of such preventive interventions. This study examined the effect of a ready-to-use supplementary food (RUSF) on the prevention of wasting in 6- to 36-mo-old children within the framework of a general food distribution program.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a two-arm cluster-randomized controlled pragmatic intervention study in a sample of 1,038 children aged 6 to 36 mo in the city of Abeche, Chad. Both arms were included in a general food distribution program providing staple foods. The intervention group was given a daily 46 g of RUSF for 4 mo. Anthropometric measurements and morbidity were recorded monthly. Adding RUSF to a package of monthly household food rations for households containing a child assigned to the intervention group did not result in a reduction in cumulative incidence of wasting (incidence risk ratio: 0.86; 95% CI: 0.67, 1.11; p = 0.25). However, the intervention group had a modestly higher gain in height-for-age (+0.03 Z-score/mo; 95% CI: 0.01, 0.04; p<0.001). In addition, children in the intervention group had a significantly higher hemoglobin concentration at the end of the study than children in the control group (+3.8 g/l; 95% CI: 0.6, 7.0; p = 0.02), thereby reducing the odds of anemia (odds ratio: 0.52; 95% CI: 0.34, 0.82; p = 0.004). Adding RUSF also resulted in a significantly lower risk of self-reported diarrhea (−29.3%; 95% CI: 20.5, 37.2; p<0.001) and fever episodes (−22.5%; 95% CI: 14.0, 30.2; p<0.001). Limitations of this study include that the projected sample size was not fully attained and that significantly fewer children from the control group were present at follow-up sessions.
Conclusions
Providing RUSF as part of a general food distribution resulted in improvements in hemoglobin status and small improvements in linear growth, accompanied by an apparent reduction in morbidity.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01154595
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Background
Good nutrition during childhood is essential for health and survival. Undernourished children are more susceptible to infections and are more likely to die from common ailments such as diarrhea than well-nourished children. Globally, undernutrition contributes to about a third of deaths among children under five years old. Experts use three physical measurements to determine whether a child is undernourished. An “underweight” child has a low weight for his or her age and gender when compared to the World Health Organization Child Growth Standards, which chart the growth of a reference population. A “stunted” child has a low height for his or her age; stunting indicates chronic undernutrition. A “wasted” child has a low weight for his or her height; wasting indicates acute undernutrition and can be caused by disasters or seasonal food shortages. Recent estimates indicate that about a fifth of young children in developing countries are underweight, and one third are stunted; in south Asia and west/central Africa, more than one tenth of children are wasted, a condition that markedly increases the risk of death.
Why Was This Study Done?
In emergency situations, international organizations support affected populations by providing “general food distributions.” Recently, there have been claims that the provision of targeted nutritional supplements within a general food distribution framework effectively prevents child wasting, but there is little evidence to support these claims. In this cluster-randomized controlled trial, the researchers investigate the effect of a targeted daily dose of a “ready-to-use supplementary food” (RUSF; a lipid-based nutrient supplement) on indicators of undernutrition in 6- to 36-month-old, non-wasted children in Chad, a country beset by a severe food crisis. Political instability in this central African country has severely reduced the nutritional status of children, and annual droughts, which affect crop production, cause a “hunger gap” between June and October. In a recent survey, one fifth of children in Chad were wasted at the beginning of this hunger gap. A cluster-randomized trial randomly assigns groups of people to receive alternative interventions and compares the outcomes in the differently treated “clusters.”
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly assigned fourteen household clusters in the city of Abeche, Chad, to the trial's intervention or control arm. All the households received a general food distribution that included staple foods; eligible children in the intervention households were also given a daily RUSF ration between June and September 2010. The researchers regularly measured the children's weights and heights, recorded illnesses reported by caregivers, and measured each child's blood hemoglobin level before and after the intervention to assess their risk of anemia, an indicator of poor nutrition. The addition of RUSF to the household food rations did not significantly reduce the cumulative incidence of wasting. That is, although fewer children in the intervention group became wasted during the trial than in the control group, this difference was not statistically significant—it could have happened by chance. However, compared to the children in the control group, those in the intervention group had a significantly greater gain in height-for-age (equivalent to a difference in height gain of 0.09 cm/month), slightly higher hemoglobin levels at the end of the study, which significantly reduced their anemia risk, and a significantly lower risk of self-reported diarrhea and fever.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although targeted RUSF provided as part of a general food distribution had no significant effect on wasting in young children in Abeche, Chad, the intervention improved their hemoglobin status and linear growth, and reduced illness among them. Why didn't targeted RUSF prevent wasting effectively in this trial? Maybe the effect of RUSF was diluted out by the effect of the general food distribution or maybe the trial was too short to see a clear effect. Most importantly, though, the trial may have been too small to see a clear effect—the researchers were unable to enroll as many children into their trial as they had planned because of political instability in Chad, and this probably limited the trial's ability to detect small differences between the control and intervention groups. Nevertheless, because these findings provide no clear evidence that adding RUSF to a household food ration effectively prevents wasting, alternative ways to prevent acute malnutrition in Chad and other vulnerable regions of the world should be investigated.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001313.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Kathryn Dewey and Mary Arimond
Action Contra la Faim–France has a web page that describes the situation in Chad
The United Nations Childrens Fund, which protects the rights of children and young people around the world, provides detailed statistics on child undernutrition; it has detailed information, including videos, about the current food crisis in Chad and the Sahel
The WHO Child Growth Standards are available (in several languages)
The United Nations provides information on ongoing world efforts to reduce hunger and child mortality
The World Food Programme is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide; its website provides detailed information about malnutrition in Chad, including a video of the current food crisis in the country
Starved for Attention is an international multimedia campaign launched in 2010 by Médecins Sans Frontiéres (MSF) and the VII Photo agency to rewrite the story of childhood malnutrition; information about MSFs work in Chad to tackle malnutrition is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001313
PMCID: PMC3445445  PMID: 23028263
17.  Effectiveness of personalised, home-based nutritional counselling on infant feeding practices, morbidity and nutritional outcomes among infants in Nairobi slums: study protocol for a cluster randomised controlled trial 
Trials  2013;14:445.
Background
Nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life (during pregnancy and the first two years) is critical for child growth and survival. Poor maternal, infant and young child nutrition (MIYCN) practices are widely documented in Kenya, with potential detrimental effects on child growth and survival. This is particularly a problem in slums, where most urban residents live. For example, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months is only about two per cent. Innovative strategies to reach slum residents are therefore needed. Strategies like the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative have proven effective in some settings but their effectiveness in resource-limited settings, including slums where many women do not deliver in hospital, is questionable. We propose to test the effectiveness of a home-based intervention on infant feeding practices, nutrition and health outcomes of infants born in two slums in Nairobi, Kenya.
Methods/Design
The study, employing a cluster-randomised study design, will be conducted in two slums in Nairobi: Korogocho and Viwandani where 14 community units (defined by the Government’s health care system) will form the unit of randomization. A total of 780 pregnant women and their respective child will be recruited into the study. The mother-child pair will be followed up until the child is one year old. Recruitment will last approximately one year and three months from September 2012 to December 2013. The mothers will receive regular, personalised, home-based counselling by trained Community Health Workers on MIYCN. Regular assessment of knowledge, attitudes and practices on MIYCN will be done, coupled with assessments of nutritional status of the mother-child pairs and diarrhea morbidity for the children. Statistical methods will include analysis of covariance and multinomial logistic regression. Additionally, cost-effectiveness analysis will be done. The study is funded by the Wellcome Trust and will run from March 2012 to February 2015.
Discussion
Interventions aimed at promoting optimal breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices are considered to have high impact and could prevent a fifth of the under-five deaths in countries with high mortality rates. This study will inform policy and practice in Kenya and similar settings regarding delivery mechanisms for such high-impact interventions, particularly among urban poor populations.
Trial registration
ISRCTN83692672
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-445
PMCID: PMC3879433  PMID: 24370263
Breastfeeding; Infant feeding practices; Child nutrition; Cluster randomised controlled trials; Kenya; Sub-Saharan Africa; Urban slums
18.  Effects of Deworming on Malnourished Preschool Children in India: An Open-Labelled, Cluster-Randomized Trial 
Background
More than a third of the world's children are infected with intestinal nematodes. Current control approaches emphasise treatment of school age children, and there is a lack of information on the effects of deworming preschool children.
Methodology
We studied the effects on the heights and weights of 3,935 children, initially 1 to 5 years of age, of five rounds of anthelmintic treatment (400 mg albendazole) administered every 6 months over 2 years. The children lived in 50 areas, each defined by precise government boundaries as urban slums, in Lucknow, North India. All children were offered vitamin A every 6 months, and children in 25 randomly assigned slum areas also received 6-monthly albendazole. Treatments were delivered by the State Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), and height and weight were monitored at baseline and every 6 months for 24 months (trial registration number NCT00396500). p Value calculations are based only on the 50 area-specific mean values, as randomization was by area.
Findings
The ICDS infrastructure proved able to deliver the interventions. 95% (3,712/3,912) of those alive at the end of the study had received all five interventions and had been measured during all four follow-up surveys, and 99% (3,855/3,912) were measured at the last of these surveys. At this final follow up, the albendazole-treated arm exhibited a similar height gain but a 35 (SE 5) % greater weight gain, equivalent to an extra 1 (SE 0.15) kg over 2 years (99% CI 0.6–1.4 kg, p = 10−11).
Conclusions
In such urban slums in the 1990s, five 6-monthly rounds of single dose anthelmintic treatment of malnourished, poor children initially aged 1–5 years results in substantial weight gain. The ICDS system could provide a sustainable, inexpensive approach to the delivery of anthelmintics or micronutrient supplements to such populations. As, however, we do not know the control parasite burden, these results are difficult to generalize.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00396500
Author Summary
About one-third of children in poor communities globally are infected with intestinal worms. Treatment is effective and safe, and involves taking a pill once or twice a year. Most deworming programs are aimed at children of school age because most infections occur in this age group and schoolchildren are easy to reach and treat in schools. But preschool children are also infected and, in North India, the State Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) provides a system of preschools and teachers that could potentially deliver treatment to younger children. To see whether deworming would be feasible and beneficial for preschool children, we studied its effects on the growth of 4,000 children initially aged 1 to 5 years in the urban slums of Lucknow, North India. Over a 2-year period, the ICDS successfully provided regular 6-monthly treatment to 95% of the children targeted, and the treated children gained about an extra kilogram in weight when compared to untreated children in neighbouring slums. These results show that the preschool program in India could provide regular deworming simply and cheaply, and suggest that poor and malnourished preschool children with a heavy worm load could show a substantial gain in weight as a result.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000223
PMCID: PMC2291568  PMID: 18414647
19.  Incidence and course of child malnutrition according to clinical or anthropometrical assessment: a longitudinal study from rural DR Congo 
BMC Pediatrics  2014;14:22.
Background
Longitudinal studies describing incidence and natural course of malnutrition are scarce. Studies defining malnutrition clinically [moderate clinical malnutrition (McM) marasmus, kwashiorkor] rather than anthropometrically are rare. Our aim was to address incidence and course of malnutrition among pre-schoolers and to compare patterns and course of clinically and anthropometrically defined malnutrition.
Methods
Using a historical, longitudinal study from Bwamanda, DR Congo, we studied incidence of clinical versus anthropometrical malnutrition in 5 657 preschool children followed 3-monthly during 15 months.
Results
Incidence rates were highest in the rainy season for all indices except McM. Incidence rates of McM and marasmus tended to be higher for boys than for girls in the dry season. Malnutrition rates increased from the 0–5 to the 6 – 11 months age category. McM and marasmus had in general a higher incidence at all ages than their anthropometrical counterparts, moderate and severe wasting. Shifts back to normal nutritional status within 3 months were more frequent for clinical than for anthropometrical malnutrition (62.2-80.3% compared to 3.4-66.4.5%). Only a minority of moderately stunted (30.9%) and severely stunted children (3.4%) shifted back to normal status. Alteration from severe to mild malnutrition was more characteristic for anthropometrically than for clinically defined malnutrition.
Conclusions
Our data on age distribution of incidence and course of malnutrition underline the importance of early life intervention to ward off malnutrition. In principle, looking at incidence may yield different findings from those obtained by looking at prevalence, since incidence and prevalence differ approximately differ by a factor “duration”. Our findings show the occurrence dynamics of general malnutrition, demonstrating that patterns can differ according to nutritional assessment method. They suggest the importance of applying a mix of clinical and anthropometric methods for assessing malnutrition instead of just one method. Functional validity of characterization of aspects of individual nutritional status by single anthropometric scores or by simple clinical classification remain issues for further investigation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-14-22
PMCID: PMC3915030  PMID: 24467733
Malnutrition; Marasmus; Kwashiorkor; Wasting; Stunting; Incidence
20.  Household Transmission of Leptospira Infection in Urban Slum Communities 
Background
Leptospirosis, a spirochaetal zoonotic disease, is the cause of epidemics associated with high mortality in urban slum communities. Infection with pathogenic Leptospira occurs during environmental exposures and is traditionally associated with occupational risk activities. However, slum inhabitants reside in close proximity to environmental sources of contamination, suggesting that transmission during urban epidemics occurs in the household environment.
Methods and Findings
A survey was performed to determine whether Leptospira infection clustered within households located in slum communities in the city of Salvador, Brazil. Hospital-based surveillance identified 89 confirmed cases of leptospirosis during an outbreak. Serum samples were obtained from members of 22 households with index cases of leptospirosis and 52 control households located in the same slum communities. The presence of anti-Leptospira agglutinating antibodies was used as a marker for previous infection. In households with index cases, 22 (30%) of 74 members had anti-Leptospira antibodies, whereas 16 (8%) of 195 members from control households had anti-Leptospira antibodies. Highest titres were directed against L. interrogans serovars of the Icterohaemorrhagiae serogroup in 95% and 100% of the subjects with agglutinating antibodies from case and control households, respectively. Residence in a household with an index case of leptospirosis was associated with increased risk (OR 5.29, 95% CI 2.13–13.12) of having had a Leptospira infection. Increased infection risk was found for all age groups who resided in a household with an index case, including children <15 years of age (P = 0.008).
Conclusions
This study identified significant household clustering of Leptospira infection in slum communities where recurrent epidemics of leptospirosis occur. The findings support the hypothesis that the household environment is an important transmission determinant in the urban slum setting. Prevention therefore needs to target sources of contamination and risk activities which occur in the places where slum inhabitants reside.
Author Summary
Leptospirosis has emerged to become an urban slum health problem. Epidemics of severe leptospirosis, characterized by jaundice, acute renal failure and haemorrhage, are now reported in cities throughout the developing world due to rapid expansion of slum settlements, which in turn has produced the ecological conditions for rodent-borne transmission of the spirochete pathogen. A survey was performed in the city of Salvador, Brazil, to determine whether the risk of Leptospira infection clustered in households within slum communities in which a member had developed severe leptospirosis. We found that members of households with an index case of leptospirosis had more than five times the risk of having serologic evidence for a prior infection than members of neighbourhood households in the same communities. Increased risk of infection was found among all age groups who resided in these households. The finding that Leptospira infection clusters in specific slum households indicates that the factors associated with this environment are important determinants for transmission. Further research is needed to identify the sources of contamination and risk exposures which occur in the places where slum inhabitants reside such that effective community-based prevention of urban leptospirosis can be implemented.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000154
PMCID: PMC2270796  PMID: 18357340
21.  To assess the effects of nutritional intervention based on advocacy approach on malnutrition status among school-aged children in Shiraz 
Background:
The present study was carried out to assess the effects of community nutrition intervention based on advocacy approach on malnutrition status among school-aged children in Shiraz, Iran.
Materials and Methods:
This case-control nutritional intervention has been done between 2008 and 2009 on 2897 primary and secondary school boys and girls (7-13 years old) based on advocacy approach in Shiraz, Iran. The project provided nutritious snacks in public schools over a 2-year period along with advocacy oriented actions in order to implement and promote nutritional intervention. For evaluation of effectiveness of the intervention growth monitoring indices of pre- and post-intervention were statistically compared.
Results:
The frequency of subjects with body mass index lower than 5% decreased significantly after intervention among girls (P = 0.02). However, there were no significant changes among boys or total population. The mean of all anthropometric indices changed significantly after intervention both among girls and boys as well as in total population. The pre- and post-test education assessment in both groups showed that the student's average knowledge score has been significantly increased from 12.5 ± 3.2 to 16.8 ± 4.3 (P < 0.0001).
Conclusion:
This study demonstrates the potential success and scalability of school feeding programs in Iran. Community nutrition intervention based on the advocacy process model is effective on reducing the prevalence of underweight specifically among female school aged children.
PMCID: PMC3872579  PMID: 24381614
Malnutrition; public health advocacy; school age children
22.  Gut Microbiomes of Indian Children of Varying Nutritional Status 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95547.
Background
Malnutrition is a global health problem affecting more than 300 million pre-school children worldwide. It is one of the major health concerns in India since around 50% of children below the age of two suffer from various forms of malnutrition. The gut microbiome plays an important role in nutrient pre-processing, assimilation and energy harvest from food. Consequently, dysbiosis of the gut microbiota has been implicated in malnutrition.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Metagenomics approach was adopted to investigate the gut microbiome sampled from 20 rural Indian children with varying nutritional status. The changes in the abundances of various taxonomic and functional groups were investigated across these gut microbiomes. A core set of 23 genera were observed across samples, with some showing differential abundances with varying nutritional status. One of the findings of the current study is the positive/negative associations of specific taxonomic and functional groups with the nutritional status of the children. Notable alterations in the architecture of the inter-microbial co-occurrence networks were also observed with changes in nutritional status. A key example is the clustering of potentially pathogenic groups into a distinct hub in severely malnourished gut. Our data does not demonstrate causality with the microbiome patterns that we observed, rather a description of some interesting patterns, whose underlying mechanism remains to be uncovered.
Conclusions
The present study envisioned interrelationships between the pattern of gut microbiome and the nutritional status of children. The cause of this pattern needs to be explored. However, insights obtained from the present study form the basis for further metagenomic investigations on larger population of children. Results of such studies will be useful in identifying the key microbial groups that can be utilized for targeted therapeutic interventions for managing severe acute malnutrition.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0095547
PMCID: PMC3999041  PMID: 24763225
23.  Burden of childhood diseases and malnutrition in a semi-urban slum in southern India 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:87.
Background
India has seen rapid unorganized urbanization in the past few decades. However, the burden of childhood diseases and malnutrition in such populations is difficult to quantify. The morbidity experience of children living in semi-urban slums of a southern Indian city is described.
Methods
A total of 176 children were recruited pre-weaning from four geographically adjacent, semi-urban slums located in the western outskirts of Vellore, Tamil Nadu for a study on water safety and enteric infections and received either bottled or municipal drinking water based on their area of residence. Children were visited weekly at home and had anthropometry measured monthly until their second birthday.
Results
A total of 3932 episodes of illness were recorded during the follow-up period, resulting in an incidence of 12.5 illnesses/child-year, with more illness during infancy than in the second year of life. Respiratory, mostly upper respiratory infections, and gastrointestinal illnesses were most common. Approximately one-third of children were stunted at two years of age, and two-thirds had at least one episode of growth failure during the two years of follow up. No differences in morbidity were seen between children who received bottled and municipal water.
Conclusions
Our study found a high burden of childhood diseases and malnutrition among urban slum dwellers in southern India. Frequent illnesses may adversely impact children’s health and development, besides placing an additional burden on families who need to seek healthcare and find resources to manage illness.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-87
PMCID: PMC3577473  PMID: 23360429
Children; Morbidity; Incidence; Slum; Longitudinal study; India
24.  Prognostic Accuracy of WHO Growth Standards to Predict Mortality in a Large-Scale Nutritional Program in Niger 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(3):e1000039.
Background
Important differences exist in the diagnosis of malnutrition when comparing the 2006 World Health Organization (WHO) Child Growth Standards and the 1977 National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reference. However, their relationship with mortality has not been studied. Here, we assessed the accuracy of the WHO standards and the NCHS reference in predicting death in a population of malnourished children in a large nutritional program in Niger.
Methods and Findings
We analyzed data from 64,484 children aged 6–59 mo admitted with malnutrition (<80% weight-for-height percentage of the median [WH]% [NCHS] and/or mid-upper arm circumference [MUAC] <110 mm and/or presence of edema) in 2006 into the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) nutritional program in Maradi, Niger. Sensitivity and specificity of weight-for-height in terms of Z score (WHZ) and WH% for both WHO standards and NCHS reference were calculated using mortality as the gold standard. Sensitivity and specificity of MUAC were also calculated. The receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was traced for these cutoffs and its area under curve (AUC) estimated. In predicting mortality, WHZ (NCHS) and WH% (NCHS) showed AUC values of 0.63 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.60–0.66) and 0.71 (CI 0.68–0.74), respectively. WHZ (WHO) and WH% (WHO) appeared to provide higher accuracy with AUC values of 0.76 (CI 0.75–0.80) and 0.77 (CI 0.75–0.80), respectively. The relationship between MUAC and mortality risk appeared to be relatively weak, with AUC = 0.63 (CI 0.60–0.67). Analyses stratified by sex and age yielded similar results.
Conclusions
These results suggest that in this population of children being treated for malnutrition, WH indicators calculated using WHO standards were more accurate for predicting mortality risk than those calculated using the NCHS reference. The findings are valid for a population of already malnourished children and are not necessarily generalizable to a population of children being screened for malnutrition. Future work is needed to assess which criteria are best for admission purposes to identify children most likely to benefit from therapeutic or supplementary feeding programs.
Rebecca Grais and colleagues assess the accuracy of WHO growth standards in predicting death among malnourished children admitted to a large nutritional program in Niger.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Malnutrition causes more than a third of child deaths worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there are 178 million malnourished children globally, all of whom are vulnerable to disease and 20 million of whom are at risk of death. Poverty, rising food prices, food scarcity, and natural disasters all contribute significantly to malnutrition, but children's lives can be saved if aid agencies are able to identify and treat acute malnutrition early. This can be done by comparing a child's body measurements to those of healthy children.
In 1977 the US National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) introduced child growth reference charts describing how US children grow. The charts enable the height of a child of a given age to be compared with the set of “percentile curves,” which show, for example, whether the child is on the 90th or the 10th centile—that is, whether taller than 90% or 10% of their peers. These NCHS reference charts were subsequently adopted by the WHO for international use. In 2006, the WHO began to use new growth charts, based on children from a variety of countries raised in optimal environments for healthy growth. These provide a standard for how all children should grow, regardless of ethnic background or wealth.
Why Was This Study Done?
It is known that the WHO standards and the NCHS reference differ in how they identify malnutrition. Estimates of malnutrition are higher with the WHO standard than the NCHS reference. This affects the cost of international programs to treat malnutrition, as more children will be diagnosed and treated when the WHO standards are used. However, it is not known how the different growth measures differ in predicting which children's lives are at risk from malnutrition. The researchers saw that the data in their nutritional program could help provide this information.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers examined data on the body measurements of over 60,000 children aged between 6 mo and 5 y enrolled in a Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) nutritional programme in Maradi, Niger during 2006. Children were assessed as having acute malnutrition (wasting) and enrolled in the feeding program if their weight-for-height was less than 80% of the NCHS average, if their mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) was under 110 mm (for children 65–110 cm), or they had swelling in both feet.
The authors evaluated three measures to see which was most accurate at predicting that children would die under treatment: low weight-for-height as measured against each of the WHO standard and NCHS reference, and low MUAC. For each measure, they compared the proportion of correct predictions of death (sensitivity) and the proportion of correct predictions of survival (specificity) for a range of possible cutoffs (or thresholds) for diagnosis.
They found that the WHO standard gave more accurate predictions than the NCHS reference or the MUAC of which children would die under treatment. The results were similar when the children were grouped by age or sex.
What Do these Findings Mean?
The results suggest that, at least in this population, the WHO standards are a more accurate predictor of death following malnutrition. This agrees with what might be expected, as the WHO standard is more up-to-date as well as aiming to show how healthy children from a range of settings should grow.
Nevertheless, an important limitation is that the children in the study had already been diagnosed as malnourished and were receiving treatment. As a result, the authors cannot say definitively which measure is better at predicting what children in the general population are acutely malnourished and would benefit most from treatment.
It should also be noted that children were predominantly entered into the feeding program by the weight-for-height indicator rather than by the MUAC. This may be a reason why the MUAC appears worse at predicting death than weight-for-height. Missing and inaccurate data, for instance on the exact ages of some children, also limit the findings.
In addition, the findings do not provide guidance on the cutoffs that should be used in deciding whether to enter a child into a feeding program. Different cutoffs represent a trade-off between treating more children needlessly in order to catch all in need, and treating fewer children and missing some in need. The study also cannot be used to advise on whether weight-for-height or the MUAC is more appropriate in a given context. In certain crisis situations, for instance, some authorities suggest it may be more practical to use the MUAC, as it requires less equipment or training.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000039.
The UN Standing Committee on Nutrition homepage publishes international briefings on nutrition as a foundation for development
The US National Center for Health Statistics provides background information on its 1977 growth charts and how they were developed in the context of explaining how they differ from revised charts produced in 2000
The World Heath Organization publishes country profile information on its child growth standards and also on Niger
Médecins sans Frontières also provides information on its work in Niger
The EC-FAO Food Security Information for Action Programme is funded by the European Commission (EC) and implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). It aims to help nations formulate more effective anti-hunger policies and provides online materials, including a guide to nutritional status assessment and analysis, which includes information on the contexts in which different indicators are useful
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000039
PMCID: PMC2650722  PMID: 19260760
25.  Characteristics of undernourished older medical patients and the identification of predictors for undernutrition status 
Nutrition Journal  2007;6:37.
Background
Undernutrition among older people is a continuing source of concern, particularly among acutely hospitalized patients. The purpose of the current study is to compare malnourished elderly patients with those at nutritional risk and identify factors contributing to the variability between the groups.
Methods
The study was carried out at the Soroka University Medical Center in the south of Israel. From September 2003 through December 2004, all patients 65 years-of-age or older admitted to any of the internal medicine departments, were screened within 72 hours of admission to determine nutritional status using the short version of the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA-SF). Patients at nutritional risk were entered the study and were divided into malnourished or 'at risk' based on the full version of the MNA. Data regarding medical, nutritional, functional, and emotional status were obtained by trained interviewers.
Results
Two hundred fifty-nine elderly patients, 43.6% men, participated in the study; 18.5% were identified as malnourished and 81.5% were at risk for malnutrition according to the MNA. The malnourished group was less educated, had a higher depression score and lower cognitive and physical functioning. Higher prevalence of chewing problems, nausea, and vomiting was detected among malnourished patients. There was no difference between the groups in health status indicators except for subjective health evaluation which was poorer among the malnourished group. Lower dietary score indicating lower intake of vegetables fruits and fluid, poor appetite and difficulties in eating distinguished between malnourished and at-risk populations with the highest sensitivity and specificity as compare with the anthropometric, global, and self-assessment of nutritional status parts of the MNA. In a multivariate analysis, lower cognitive function, education <12 years and chewing problems were all risk factors for malnutrition.
Conclusion
Our study indicates that low food consumption as well as poor appetite and chewing problems are associated with the development of malnutrition. Given the critical importance of nutritional status in the hospitalized elderly, further intervention trials are required to determine the best intervention strategies to overcome these problems.
doi:10.1186/1475-2891-6-37
PMCID: PMC2204029  PMID: 17980023

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