Does the 65 cm height cut-off as age proxy exclude children eligible for nutritional assessment in Bangladesh?

Abstract

During nutritional surveys and in circumstances when it is difficult to ascertain children's age, length/height cut-offs are used as proxy for age to sample children aged 6–59 months. In a context of prevalent stunting, using data from primary health care centres where age and height parameters were well-recorded, this study assessed the proportion of children aged between 6 and 59 months who would be excluded from nutritional assessment using a height cut-off of 65 cm as a proxy for age 6 months or over. This was a secondary data analysis of primary health centre data. A total of 2060 children were included in the analysis, with a median age of 24 months and a median height of 78 cm (SD 12.1, range 50–109 cm). There were 240 (12%, 95%CI 10–13) children aged between 6 and 29 months, with a height less than 65 cm. The majority (59%) of these children were females; 97.5% were aged 6–17 months. It was concluded that in an urban slum setting in Bangladesh, the use of the current height cut-off as a proxy for age excludes vulnerable children from nutritional assessment and could also lead to underestimation of the prevalence of malnutrition in nutritional surveys.

Citation

Ali, E.; Zachariah, R.; Hinderaker, S. G.; Satyanarayana, S.; Kizito, W.; Alders, P.; Shams, Z.; Allaouna, M.; Draguez, B.; Delchevalerie, P.; Enarson, D.A. Does the 65 cm height cut-off as age proxy exclude children eligible for nutritional assessment in Bangladesh? Public Health Action (2012) 2 (4) 103-106.

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