Risk factors for malnutrition in children at Port Moresby General Hospital, Papua New Guinea: a case-control study

J Trop Pediatr. 2014 Dec;60(6):442-8. doi: 10.1093/tropej/fmu049. Epub 2014 Sep 17.


Fifty children admitted for malnutrition were age matched with 50 admitted for other reasons. These children were more likely to be female (p = 0.003), born low birth weight (p = 0.02), after a short birth interval (p = 0.014) and to be incompletely vaccinated (p < 0.001) than control children, and to be living in rural villages or settlement housing (p < 0.001) with inadequate water supply (p < 0.001) and sanitation (p = 0.037), with overcrowding (p = 0.016) and low household income (p = 0.04). Their parents were more likely to have had no or only rudimentary education than parents of control children [Odds ratio (OR) 3.58 for mothers, 4.12 for fathers]. Parental consumption of alcohol as well as smoking in the mother was more common in the malnourished children. Running water in the house was an independent protective factor (OR 0.23) and the fathers' poor employment status (OR 4.12) an independent risk factor. The solution to malnutrition involves improving community understanding of nutrition and in reducing social inequalities.

Keywords: Papua New Guinea; children; malnutrition; risk factors.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior*
  • Mothers
  • Nutrition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Nutrition Disorders / etiology
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Nutritional Status
  • Odds Ratio
  • Papua New Guinea / epidemiology
  • Protein-Energy Malnutrition / epidemiology*
  • Protein-Energy Malnutrition / etiology
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Population
  • Socioeconomic Factors