Childhood asymptomatic malaria and nutritional status among Port Harcourt children

East Afr J Public Health. 2007 Oct;4(2):55-8.

Abstract

Objective: Our study in Port Harcourt children with asymptomatic malaria aimed at assessing the baseline anthropometric indices of nutritional status, and whether their nutritional status (especially under nutrition) offers any advantage for living in malaria endemic areas.

Design: Cross-sectional study was used.

Setting: Rumueme Community in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

Subjects: Apparently healthy children aged 1-8 years of both sexes (Boys = 117, Girls = 123; Ratio 1:1.05), 240 children from randomly selected households within the study community participated in the study.

Results: Of the 240 children, 66 (27.5%) were infected with malaria (P falciparum). Children below 5 years had a higher parasitaemic rate (36.36%) than those in 5-8 years group (21.27%). Our baseline data showed that 17.5% were underweight (WFA Z < -2), 3.75% were stunted (HFA Z < -2) and 22.5% were wasting (WFH Z < -2). Children who are underweight were found to be at higher risk of acquiring malaria infection than the well nourished children (RR = 1.02, chi2 = 0.320, p < 0.02, 95% CI 0.34-2.37). Under nutrition was more prominent in the children below 5 years than the older children (RR = 3.625, chi2 = 10.36, p < 0.006, 95% CI 1.81-5.43). The haemoglobin value of parasitized children (10.8 +/- 1.9 g/dl) was significantly lower than the non-parasitized group (11.3 +/- 1.7 g/dl,) (p < 0.01).

Conclusion: We concluded that the presence of under nutrition places children (especially below 5 years of age) at higher risk of malaria related morbidity. Children in malaria endemic areas need adequate nutrition to withstand the negative impact of malaria.

MeSH terms

  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Malaria, Falciparum / complications*
  • Malaria, Falciparum / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Nigeria / epidemiology
  • Nutrition Disorders / complications*
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Risk Factors