Incidence of Growth Faltering, Diarrhoeal and Upper Respiratory tract illnesses and Feeding practices during bouts of illness among children between 3 to 4 years
Poor growth of children in developing countries is a major public health problem associated with mortality, morbidity and developmental delay. The objective of this study was to find out the magnitude and determinants of growth faltering among 3 to 4-year-old children in registered preschools in Kurunegala Municipal Council area, Sri Lanka and to determine the associations between growth faltering and bouts of diarrhoeal and respiratory illnesses and feeding habits during diarrhoeal and respiratory illnesses. A total 450 children of between 3 to 4 years were followed up two monthly for one year to assess growth faltering. The mothers/caretakers of children were interviewed, at each visit and information regarding diarrhoeal and upper respiratory illnesses and sociodemographic factors were collected using a pre-tested interview schedule. Anthropometric measurements of the children were taken in every two months. Growth faltering was defined as failure to gain weight or actual loss of weight, and weight gain less than 300 g over a period of three consecutive months. Identification of growth faltering was from an assessment of the degree of deviation of weight or height from the standard trajectory based on the WHO Anthro software. The cumulative incidence of growth faltering among 3-4 year children was 622 per 1,000 children per year. In the multivariate analysis, the authors found the presence of diarrhoeal and upper respiratory tract illnesses as significant predictors of growth faltering and there was no association between feeding habits during these bouts of illness and growth faltering. The present finding suggests more focus has to be on early detection and timely correction of growth faltering rather than just identification and treatment of severely malnourished children.