The effect of multiple anthropometric deficits on child mortality: Meta-analysis of individual data in 10 prospective studies from developing countries

Christine M. McDonald, Ibironke Olofin, Seth Flaxman, Wafaie W. Fawzi, Donna Spiegelman, Laura E. Caulfield, Robert E. Black, Majid Ezzati, Goodarz Danaei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Child stunting, wasting, and underweight have been individually associated with increased mortality. However, there has not been an analysis of the mortality risk associated with multiple anthropometric deficits. Objective: The objective was to quantify the association between combinations of stunting, wasting, and underweight and mortality among children <5 y of age. Design: We analyzed data from 10 cohort studies or randomized trials in low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America with 53,767 participants and 1306 deaths. Height-for-age, weightfor-height, and weight-for-age were calculated by using the 2006 WHO growth standards, and children were classified into 7 mutually exclusive combinations: no deficits; stunted only; wasted only; underweight only; stunted and underweight but not wasted; wasted and underweight but not stunted; and stunted, wasted, and underweight (deficit defined as < -2 z scores). We calculated study-specific mortality HRs using Cox proportional hazards models and used a random-effects model to pool HRs across studies. Results: The risk of all-cause mortality was elevated among children with 1, 2, and 3 anthropometric deficits. In comparison with children with no deficits, the mortality HRs were 3.4 (95% CI: 2.6, 4.3) among children who were stunted and underweight but not wasted; 4.7 (95% CI: 3.1, 7.1) in those who were wasted and underweight but not stunted; and 12.3 (95% CI: 7.7, 19.6) in those who were stunted, wasted, and underweight. Conclusion: Children with multiple deficits are at a heightened risk of mortality and may benefit most from nutrition and other child survival interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)896-901
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Volume97
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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