Prevalence, pattern and risk factors for undernutrition in early infancy using the WHO Multicentre Growth Reference: a community-based study

Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2010 Nov;24(6):572-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3016.2010.01144.x.


This cross-sectional study set out to determine the prevalence, pattern and risk factors for undernutrition during early infancy in a setting with substantial non-hospital births against the backdrop of limited evidence on nutritional status in the first three months of life based on an exclusively breast-fed reference population. Undernutrition based on z-scores below -2 for weight-for-age, height/length-for-age and body-mass-index-for-age among infants (0-3 months) attending clinics for routine Bacille de Calmette-Guérin (BCG) immunisation in Lagos, Nigeria from July 2005 to March 2008 was determined using current World Health Organisation's Multicentre Growth Reference (WHO-MGR). Maternal and infant factors associated with undernutrition were explored with multivariable logistic regression analyses. Of the 5888 full-term infants enrolled 51% were born outside hospital and 99.4% were exclusively breast-fed. 811 (13.8%) were underweight (weight-for-age), 1802 (30.8%) were stunted (height/length-for-age) and 579 (10.0%) were wasted (body-mass-index-for-age). Altogether, 3635 (61.6%) infants were not undernourished while 192 (3.3%) were undernourished by all three nutritional measures. Intrauterine growth restriction was a significant contributor to undernutrition. Maternal age, multiple pregnancies and gender were associated with all nutritional indices. Additionally, maternal education, ownership/type of residence, parity, antenatal care, place of delivery and hyperbilirubinaemia were predictive of underweight, stunting and wasting. We conclude that undernutrition is prevalent in the first three months of life in this population and can be detected early at routine immunisation clinics shortly after birth. Maternal/perinatal history offers valuable predictors in resource-poor communities where the majority of births occur outside hospital.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropometry / methods
  • Developing Countries
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Failure to Thrive / epidemiology
  • Failure to Thrive / etiology
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Nutrition Disorders / embryology
  • Infant Nutrition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Infant Nutrition Disorders / etiology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Nigeria / epidemiology
  • Nutritional Status
  • Social Class
  • Young Adult