Children concurrently wasted and stunted: A meta-analysis of prevalence data of children 6-59 months from 84 countries

Khara T, Mwangome M, Ngari M, Dolan C
Matern Child Nutr. 2018;14

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Children can be stunted and wasted at the same time. Having both deficits greatly elevates risk of mortality. The analysis aimed to estimate the prevalence and burden of children aged 6-59 months concurrently wasted and stunted. Data from demographic and health survey and Multi-indicator Cluster Surveys datasets from 84 countries were analysed. Overall prevalence for being wasted, stunted, and concurrently wasted and stunted among children 6 to 59 months was calculated. A pooled prevalence of concurrence was estimated and reported by gender, age, United Nations regions, and contextual categories. Burden was calculated using population figures from the global joint estimates database. The pooled prevalence of concurrence in the 84 countries was 3.0%, 95% CI [2.97, 3.06], ranging from 0% to 8.0%. Nine countries reported a concurrence prevalence greater than 5%. The estimated burden was 5,963,940 children. Prevalence of concurrence was highest in the 12- to 24-month age group 4.2%, 95% CI [4.1, 4.3], and was significantly higher among boys 3.54%, 95% CI [3.47, 3.61], compared to girls; 2.46%, 95% CI [2.41, 2.52]. Fragile and conflict-affected states reported significantly higher concurrence 3.6%, 95% CI [3.5, 3.6], than those defined as stable 2.24%, 95% CI [2.18, 2.30]. This analysis represents the first multiple country estimation of the prevalence and burden of children concurrently wasted and stunted. Given the high risk of mortality associated with concurrence, the findings indicate a need to report on this condition as well as investigate whether these children are being reached through existing programmes.