Studies on the predisposing factors of protein energy malnutrition among pregnant women in a Nigerian community
Okwu, G.N.; Ukoha, A.I.; Nwachukwu, N. and Agha, N.C. (2008) Studies on the predisposing factors of protein energy malnutrition among pregnant women in a Nigerian community. Online Journal of Health and Allied Sciences, 6 (3). ISSN 0972-5997
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Protein Energy Malnutrition (PEM) continues to be a major public health problem in developing countries and affects mostly infants, young children, pregnant and lactating mothers. This study was carried on some of the factors that predispose pregnant women to PEM and hence identify groups at greater risk. A total of 1387 pregnant women (910 in the urban area and 477 in the rural areas) were recruited for the study. Anthropometric indices of weight, height and Body Mass Index (BMI) of the pregnant women were measured and semi structured questionnaires were used to elicit information on possible predisposing factors such as age, level of education, parity, child spacing etc. Results obtained showed that the mean weight and height of the rural pregnant women, were significantly (p<0.0001) lower than those of the urban pregnant women. The mean BMI of the rural subjects, was also significantly (p< 0.0027) lower than that of the urban subjects. Analysis of the effect of age showed that the younger age category (24 years and below) had significantly (p<0.0001) lower mean BMI and higher prevalence of PEM while the effect of level of education showed significantly (p<0006) lower mean BMI and higher PEM prevalence among the less educated (no formal and primary education). Those with parity of two, one and primipara showed significantly (p<0.0175) lower mean BMI while child spacing did not have any significant effect on both mean BMI and prevalence of PEM. The implications of these findings are discussed and recommendations made on how to tackle the problem.
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