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1.  Regional Variation in Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity in Saudi Children and Adolescents 
There are limited data on regional variation of overweight and obesity in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Therefore, the aim of this report is to explore the magnitude of these variation in order to focus preventive programs to regional needs.
Setting and Design:
Community-based multistage random sample of representative cohort from each region.
Patients and Methods:
the study sample was cross-sectional, representative of healthy children and adolescents from 2 to 17 years of age. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated according to the formula (weight/height2). The 2000 center for disease control reference was used for the calculation of prevalence of overweight and obesity defined as the proportion of children and adolescents whose BMI for age was above 85th and 95th percentiles respectively, for Northern, Southwestern and Central regions of the Kingdom. Chi-square test was used to assess the difference in prevalence between regions and a P value of <0.05 was considered significant.
The sample size was 3525, 3413 and 4174 from 2-17 years of age in the Central, Southwestern and Northern regions respectively. The overall prevalence of overweight was 21%, 13.4% and 20.1%, that of obesity was 9.3%, 6% and 9.1% in the Central, Southwestern and Northern regions respectively indicating a significantly-lower prevalence in the Southwestern compared to other regions (P<0.0001).
This report revealed significant regional variations important to consider in planning preventive and therapeutic programs tailored to the needs of each region.
PMCID: PMC3326974  PMID: 22421719
Obesity; prevalence of overweight; regional variations; Saudi children
2.  Prevalence of malnutrition in Saudi children: a community-based study 
Annals of Saudi Medicine  2010;30(5):381-385.
There is no published information on the prevalence of malnutrition in Saudi Arabia. The objective of this study was to establish the prevalence data.
The prevalence of nutritional indicators in the form of underweight, stunting, and wasting in a national sample of children younger than 5 years of age was calculated using the new WHO standards as reference. Calculations were performed using the corresponding WHO software. The prevalence of moderate and severe underweight, wasting and stunting, was defined as the proportion of children whose weight for age, weight for height, and height for age were below –2 and –3 standard deviation scores, respectively.
The number of children younger than 5 years of age was 15 516 and 50.5% were boys. The prevalence of moderate and severe underweight was 6.9% and 1.3%, respectively. The prevalence of moderate and severe wasting was 9.8% and 2.9%, respectively. Finally, the prevalence of moderate and severe stunting was 10.9% and 2.8%, respectively. The prevalence was lower in girls for all indicators. Comparison of the prevalence of nutritional indicators in selected countries demonstrates large disparity with an intermediate position for Saudi Arabia.
This report establishes the national prevalence of malnutrition among Saudi children. Compared to data from other countries, these prevalence rates are still higher than other countries with less economic resources, indicating that more efforts are needed to improve the nutritional status of children.
PMCID: PMC2941251  PMID: 20697172
3.  Blood pressure standards for Saudi children and adolescents 
Annals of Saudi Medicine  2009;29(3):173-178.
Blood pressure levels may vary in children because of genetic, ethnic and socioeconomic factors. To date, there have been no large national studies in Saudi Arabia on blood pressure in children. Therefore, we sought to establish representative blood pressure reference centiles for Saudi Arabian children and adolescents.
We selected a sample of children and adolescents aged from birth to 18 years by multi-stage probability sampling of the Saudi population. The selected sample represented Saudi children from the whole country. Data were collected through a house-to-house survey of all selected households in all 13 regions in the country. Data were analyzed to study the distribution pattern of systolic (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) and to develop reference values. The 90th percentile of SBP and DBP values for each age were compared with values from a Turkish and an American study.
A total of 16 226 Saudi children and adolescents from birth to 18 years were studied. Blood pressure rose steadily with age in both boys and girls. The average annual increase in SBP was 1.66 mm Hg for boys and 1.44 mm Hg for girls. The average annual increase in DBP was 0.83 mm Hg for boys and 0.77 mm Hg for girls. DBP rose sharply in boys at the age of 18 years. Values for the 90th percentile of both SBP and DBP varied in Saudi children from their Turkish and American counterparts for all age groups.
Blood pressure values in this study differed from those from other studies in developing countries and in the United States, indicating that comparison across studies is difficult and from that every population should use their own normal standards to define measured blood pressure levels in children.
PMCID: PMC2813655  PMID: 19448364
4.  Liver Size in Saudi Children and Adolescents 
To examine the liver size in Saudi children and adolescents.
A large sample of children was selected from the general population by multistage random probability sampling for the assessment of physical growth. A random subsample of children–newborns to 18 years old–was taken from this larger sample for this study. Liver size below the costal margin and liver span along the midclavicular line were determined by physicians. Data were analyzed using SPSS software and medians and standard deviations were calculated.
Between 2004 and 2005, 18 112 healthy children up to 18 years of age were examined. All were term and appropriate for gestational age. There were 9 130 boys and 8 982 girls, yielding a nearly 1:1 male to female ratio. The maximum palpable liver size below the costal margin was 2.4 cm. The median and + 2 SD liver span at birth were 4 and 6.9 cm, respectively. There was no difference in the liver span between boys and girls of up to 60 months of age. Thereafter, a difference could be seen increasing with age, with girls having smaller liver spans than boys.
This manuscript reports the liver size in Saudi children and adolescents. The data should help physicians in the interpretation of liver size determined by physical examination of children and adolescents.
PMCID: PMC2702944  PMID: 19568553
Children; liver size; liver span; Saudi Arabia
5.  Trends in infant nutrition in Saudi Arabia: compliance with WHO recommendations 
Annals of Saudi Medicine  2009;29(1):20-23.
The WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months of life. Our objective was to evaluate trends in infant nutrition in Saudi Arabia and the degree of compliance with WHO recommendations.
A nationwide nutritional survey of a sample of Saudi households was selected by the multistage probability sampling procedure. A validated questionnaire was administered to mothers of children less than 3 years of age.
Of 5339 children in the sample, 4889 received breast milk at birth indicating a prevalence of initiation of 91.6%. Initiation of breastfeeding was delayed beyond 6 hours after birth in 28.1% of the infants. Bottle feeding was introduced by 1 month of age to 2174/4260 (51.4%) and to 3831/4260 (90%) by 6 months of age. The majority of infants 3870/4787 (80.8%) were introduced to “solid foods” between 4 to 6 months of age and whole milk feedings were given to 40% of children younger than 12 months of age.
The current practice of feeding of Saudi infants is very far from compliance with even the most conservative WHO recommendations of exclusive breastfeeding for 4 to 6 months. The high prevalence of breastfeeding initiation at birth indicates the willingness of Saudi mothers to breastfeed. However, early introduction of complementary feedings reduced the period of exclusive breastfeeding. Research in infant nutrition should be a public health priority to improve the rate of breastfeeding and to minimize other inappropriate practices.
PMCID: PMC2813620  PMID: 19139623
6.  Does consanguinity increase the risk of bronchial asthma in children? 
Annals of Thoracic Medicine  2008;3(2):41-43.
There is a high prevalence of consanguinity and bronchial asthma in Saudi Arabia. The objective of this study is to explore the effect of parental consanguinity on the occurrence of bronchial asthma in children. The study sample was determined by multistage random probability sampling of Saudi households. The families with at least one child with asthma were matched with an equal number of families randomly selected from a list of families with healthy children, the latter families being designated as controls. There were 103 families with children having physician-diagnosed bronchial asthma, matched with an equal number of families with no children with asthma. This resulted in 140 children with bronchial asthma and 295 children from controls. The age and gender distribution of the children with bronchial asthma and children from controls were similar. There were 54/103 (52.4%) and 61/103 (59.2%) cases of positive parental consanguinity in asthmatic children and children from controls respectively (P = 0.40). Analysis of consanguinity status of the parents of children with asthma and parents among controls indicates that 71/140 (51%) of the children with asthma and 163/295 (55.3%) of the children from controls had positive parental overall consanguinity (P = 0.43). The results of this study suggest that parental consanguinity does not increase the risk of bronchial asthma in children.
PMCID: PMC2700455  PMID: 19561903
Bronchial asthma; consanguinity; Saudi Arabia

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