Small size at birth as a predictor of increased risk of childhood morbidity, mortality and malnutrition: Evidence from Bangladesh demographic and health survey
Background & Aim: Physical size or weight at birth of an infant is an important biomarker
of current and future health and development of the infant. The aim of this study is to examine
the effect of small size at birth – a proxy indicator of low birth weight - on childhood
mortality, morbidity and malnutrition in Bangladesh.
Methods & Materials: The data for the study come from the 2014 Bangladesh Demographic
and Health Survey. A total of 4,897 live births with information on size at birth as reported
by their mothers were included in the analysis. Both descriptive and multivariate statistical
techniques were used for data analysis
Results: One in every five live births (20%) was reported to be small in size in Bangladesh.
Children born with small size at birth have some distinct characteristics than average size
babies. Significantly higher incidence of malnutrition, mortality and morbidity were found
among small size babies compared to average size babies. The multivariate analysis identified
small size at birth as a significant predictor of childhood malnutrition, mortality and morbidity
from diarrhea. Small size infants had 1.6 to 2.2 times higher risk of stunting, wasting or
underweight, 1.6 times higher risk of diarrhea and 2.4 times higher risk of death during
neonatal period than average size infants.
Conclusion: Health education to parents and special care for small size babies through trained
health workers need to be undertaken for improving the health of small size babies. At the
same time, appropriate policy should be taken to reduce the incidence of small size babies.
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