Effects of biosocial variables on changes in nutritional status of rural Bangladeshi children, pre- and post-monsoon flooding

J Biosoc Sci. 1993 Jul;25(3):351-7. doi: 10.1017/s002193200002068x.


This study examined the effects of biosocial variables on changes in nutritional status of rural Bangladeshi children, aged less than 2 years, pre- and post-1987 monsoon flooding. Nutritional status was measured by weight for age: variables included were age, sex, sickness during 2 weeks preceding the survey, intake of vitamin A capsules, socioeconomic status of household, and mother's education. A multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed an adverse effect of flood on nutrition and the effect was dependent on sex of child and intake of vitamin A. After the flood the proportion of severely malnourished children was significantly greater among those who had not taken vitamin A. For boys the proportion with severe malnutrition increased after the flood and the increase was greater than for girls; however, boys always had a lower risk of severe malnutrition than girls.

PIP: In 1987 in Bangladesh, a nutrition education program, training in oral rehydration therapy, and distribution of vitamin A to children began in Aminpur, Baiddyer Bazar, and Barodi unions in Sonargaon upazila. Researchers conducted 2 anthropometric surveys (March-April 1987 and June-July 1988) to determine the effects of biosocial variables on changes in nutritional status of 2-year-old children caused by the July 1987 monsoon flood. They then compared the 1987 and 1988 nutritional status of children in the villages from the 3 intervention unions with the status of those in a nonintervention union, Jampur. The proportion of children in villages affected by the flood who were severely malnourished (61% of weight for age) rose significantly from 5 to 11% (p .001). The proportion essentially did not change in villages not affected by the flood (12 and 11%, respectively). Children 18 months old were the most affected by the flood. The multivariate analysis revealed that sex of the child, socioeconomic status, mother's education, and sickness during past 2 weeks had a significant effect on severe malnutrition, but they were not dependent on the flood. The flood had a significant negative impact on nutritional status (X2 19.26; p .001) and this impact depended on the sex of the child and vitamin A intake. Boys consistently had a lower predicted risk of severe malnutrition than girls (before the flood, .018 vs. .068; after the flood, .05 vs. .081). The flood did increase the risk of severe malnutrition among boys (.018 vs .05). This increased risk was greater than the increased risk of girls (.032 vs. .013), suggesting that the difference in risk of severe malnutrition between boys and girls abated after the flood. Further, after the flood, taking vitamin A protected children from severe malnutrition (.054 vs. .102), indicating a need to distribute vitamin A to children in areas susceptible to natural disasters to reduce the likelihood of severe malnutrition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bangladesh / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Developing Countries*
  • Disasters*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Protein-Energy Malnutrition / epidemiology*
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors*