Factors Associated with Stunting among Pre-school Children in Southern Highlands of Tanzania

J Trop Pediatr. 2016 Oct;62(5):390-408. doi: 10.1093/tropej/fmw024. Epub 2016 Apr 27.


Background: Stunting is a major public health problem in Africa and is associated with poor child survival and development. We investigate factors associated to child stunting in three Tanzanian regions.

Methods: A cross-sectional two-stage cluster sampling survey was conducted among children aged 6-59 months. The sample included 1360 children aged 6-23 months and 1904 children aged 24-59 months. Descriptive statistics and binary and multivariate logistic regression analyses were used.

Results: Our main results are: in the younger group, stunting was associated with male sex (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]: 2.17; confidence interval [CI]: 1.52-3.09), maternal absence (AOR: 1.93; CI: 1.21-3.07) and household diet diversity (AOR: 0.61; CI: 0.41-0.92). Among older children, stunting was associated with male sex (AOR: 1.28; CI: 1.00-1.64), age of 4 and 5 (AOR: 0.71; CI: 0.54-0.95; AOR: 0.60; CI: 0.44-0.83), access to improved water source (AOR: 0.70; CI: 0.52-0.93) and to a functioning water station (AOR: 0.63; CI: 0.40-0.98) and mother breastfeeding (AOR: 1.97; CI: 1.18-3.29).

Conclusions: Interventions that increase household wealth and improve water and sanitation conditions should be implemented to reduce stunting. Family planning activities and programmes supporting mothers during pregnancy and lactation can positively affect both newborns and older siblings.

Keywords: Tanzania.; child care; diet diversity; growth; maternal support; stunting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet*
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Food Supply / statistics & numerical data*
  • Growth Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mothers
  • Nutritional Status
  • Poverty
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tanzania / epidemiology
  • Thinness / epidemiology*