Nutritional status of children under five years old involved in a seasonal malaria chemoprevention study in the Nanyumbu and Masasi districts in Tanzania

PLoS One. 2022 Apr 29;17(4):e0267670. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0267670. eCollection 2022.


Background: Malnutrition and malaria are common co-morbidities in low-income countries, especially among under-fives children. But the malnutrition situation in Masasi and Nanyumbu districts, its interaction with malaria infection and the influence of socioeconomic factors are not well understood.

Methods: Children aged between 3-59 months in Masasi and Nanyumbu were screened for nutritional status and malaria infection in the community. Nutritional status was determined using age and anthropometric parameters. Z-scores (weight for age (WAZ), height for age (HAZ) and weight for height (WHZ)) were calculated based on the World Health Organisation (WHO) growth reference curves. Malaria infection was determined using malaria rapid diagnostic test and microscopy. Hemoglobin concentration was assessed using HemoCue spectrophotometer, and anemia was classified as hemoglobin concentration < 11.0g/dL. Structured questionnaire was used to collect socio- demographic information electronically.

Results: A total of 2242 children, 1539 (68.6%) from Masasi and 1169 (52.1%) females were involved in the study. The mean z-scores (WAZ = -0.60 and HAZ = -1.56) were lower than the WHO reference population. The overall prevalence of malnutrition was 49%, and it was significantly higher in Nanyumbu (52.5%) than in Masasi (47.3%), (x2 = 5.045, p = 0.025). Prevalence of malnutrition was higher in boys (53.0%) than in girls (45.0%) (x2 = 13.9, p < 0.001). Stunting was the most prevalent component of undernutrition; it was slightly prevalent in Nanyumbu (46.5%) compared to Masasi (42.0%), (x2 = 3.624, p = 0.057) and in boys (48.2%) than in girls (39.1%), x2 = 17.44, p<0.001. Only 15.8% of the undernourished children had malaria infection. Sex, age group and anaemia were significantly associated with undernourishment (p<0.05), while district and malaria infection were marginally (p≤0.06) associated with undernourishment. None of the undernutrition indices was associated with malaria infection.

Conclusion: Undernutrition was highly prevalent in the study population and was influenced sex, age, anaemia and malaria infection. More emphasis is needed to address the malnutrition problem especially stunting in Masasi and Nanyumbu districts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anemia* / epidemiology
  • Chemoprevention
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Growth Disorders / epidemiology
  • Hemoglobins
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Malaria* / epidemiology
  • Malaria* / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Malnutrition* / epidemiology
  • Nutritional Status
  • Seasons
  • Tanzania / epidemiology


  • Hemoglobins

Grant support

BN Global Fund The funder did not play any role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.