Prevalence and associated factors influencing stunting in children aged 2-5 years in the Gaza Strip-Palestine: a cross-sectional study

BMC Pediatr. 2017 Dec 21;17(1):210. doi: 10.1186/s12887-017-0957-y.


Background: Stunting continues to be a major public health problem in developing countries. It is one of the most important risk factors for morbidity and mortality during childhood. In Palestine, it is another health problem, which adds to the catastrophic issues in the region. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of stunting and its associated factors among preschool children in the Gaza Strip.

Methods: A cross-sectional study design was conducted in the Gaza Strip. A total of 357 children aged 2-5 years and their mothers aged 18-50 years were recruited. A multistage cluster sampling was used in the selection of the study participants from three geographical areas in the Gaza Strip: Jabalia refugee camp, El Remal urban area, and Al Qarara rural area. A structured questionnaire was used for face- to -face interviews with the respective child's mother to collect sociodemographic information and feeding practice. Anthropometric measurements for children were taken to classify height-for-age (HAZ), while maternal height was measured as well. Descriptive and binary logistic regression analyses were applied to determine the prevalence and associated factors with stunting.

Results: The total prevalence of stunting in this study was 19.6%, with the highest prevalence being (22.6%) in Jabalia refugee camp. It turns out that shorter mothers had increased the odds of stunting in preschool children in the Gaza Strip. Children born to mothers whose height was 1.55-1.60 m or <1.55 m were more likely to be stunted (p = 0. 008), or (p < 0.001), respectively, than children born to mothers whose height was >1.60 m. Moreover, parental consanguinity increased the risk of stunted children (p = 0. 015).

Conclusions: This study showed the prevalence of stunting was of alarming magnitude in the Gaza Strip. Our results also demonstrated that parental consanguinity and short maternal stature were associated with stunting. Culturally appropriate interventions and appropriate strategies should be implemented to discourage these types of marriages. Policy makers must also raise awareness of the importance of the prevention and control of nutritional problems to combat stunting among children in the Gaza Strip.

Keywords: Associated factors; Gaza strip; Prevalence; Stunting.

MeSH terms

  • Body Height
  • Child, Preschool
  • Consanguinity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Growth Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology
  • Middle East / epidemiology
  • Mothers
  • Nutritional Status
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors