Diet and nutritional status among hospitalised children in Hawassa, Southern Ethiopia
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionBMC Pediatrics. 2022, 22 (1), 57. 10.1186/s12887-022-03107-6
Background Undernutrition constitutes a major problem among children in Hawassa, Ethiopia, and the literature on nutritional status in hospitalised children is scarce. The aim of this study was to investigate dietary diversity, nutritional practices, and the frequencies of undernutrition and the factors associated with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in a hospitalised paediatric population in Hawassa, Southern Ethiopia. Methods A hospital-based cross-sectional study was carried out among hospitalised children in Hawassa, Southern Ethiopia. Children aged 6 to 59 months and their caregivers admitted for >24 hours from two public hospitals in Hawassa between November 2019 and January 2020 were included. Dietary diversity was assessed using World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Weight and height/length of the children were measured, and z-scores were calculated using the WHO growth standards. The definition of SAM was a weight-for-height z-score (WHZ) less than –3 or a clinically confirmed SAM diagnosis with higher WHZ. Results A total of 188 caregiver-child pairs were assessed in the two public hospitals. The majority of the patients were admitted with SAM (N = 70/188, 37%) or respiratory tract infections (N = 44/188, 23%). There was a similar number of boys and girls with SAM. Of all the children, 59% reported to have consumed foods from fewer than four food groups, while 40% reported eating foods from four or more food groups. The rate of malnutrition was high, and 35.8% of the children were classified as wasted (WHZ < –2) and 41% were stunted (height-for-age z-score < –2). Nearly 30% of the SAM patients were also stunted. Conclusion This study revealed that hospitalised children in this setting had poor dietary diversity and nutritional status, a high degree of morbidity, and extreme poverty. There is thus a need to focus on nutrition patterns in clinical settings.