WHO South-East Asia Journal of Public Health
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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 139-149

Regional variation in maternal and childhood undernutrition in Bangladesh: evidence from demographic and health surveys

1 Department of Community Medicine, Ibrahim Medical College, Dhaka, Bangladesh
2 Department of Biological Anthropology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

Correspondence Address:
Masuda Mohsena
Masuda Mohsena, Department of Community Medicine, Ibrahim Medical College, 122 Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue, Shahabag, Dhaka-1000
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DOI: 10.4103/2224-3151.206683

PMID: 28607312

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Background: Undernutrition among mothers and children is currently a major public health and development concern in Bangladesh. In literature relating to nutritional determinants, of particular interest is the geography, as regions with poor nutrition tend to pull down the overall nutritional status of the country. As such, reducing the regional gap can alone reduce overall undernutrition significantly, especially when regional gaps are high. The aim of this study is, therefore, to assess the magnitude of inequalities in undernutrition in children aged under 5 years in Bangladesh and their mothers, and relate this to the administrative divisions of the country. Methods: The Bangladesh Demographic and Health Surveys (1996–1997, 1999–2000, 2004 and 2007) were the sources of data, and a total of 16 278 mother–child pairs whose records were complete for the required individual and household-level variables were included in the analysis. Maternal nutritional status was measured by the body mass index (BMI). Weight-for-age, height-for-age and weight-for-height z-scores were calculated by use of the World Health Organization (WHO) Child Growth Standards to assess the nutritional status of children aged under 5 years. General linear model, sequential linear and multinomial logistic regression analyses were done to assess the inequalities in maternal and child nutritional status among the six administrative divisions of Bangladesh. Socioeconomic variables that were controlled for were residency, education and occupation of the mothers and their husbands, house type and possession score in the household. Results: Maternal BMI and prevalence of underweight, stunting and wasting in children aged under 5 years were found to vary significantly according to administrative division. Of the six divisions, Sylhet was found to have highest prevalence of undernourished mothers and children. The trends from 1996 to 2007 also established Sylhet as the poorest-performing region overall. Conclusion: The Sylhet administrative division needs specially focused attention from policy-makers if the overall performance of the health, nutrition and population sector is to reach the targets set by the country.

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