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J Biosoc Sci. 2012 Sep;44(5):537-48. doi: 10.1017/S002193201200017X. Epub 2012 Apr 24.

Contextual risk factors for maternal malnutrition in a food-insecure zone in southern Ethiopia.

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  • 1Hawassa University, Department of Rural Development and Family Sciences, Hawassa, SNNPR, Ethiopia.


This study examined the nutritional status of mothers in one of the most populous food-insecure zones in southern Ethiopia, the Sidama zone. The study used primary data collected from 1094 households with a child under 24 months located in ten kebeles (the smallest administrative district). Households were selected using multi-stage probability sampling techniques. The mothers' nutritional status was estimated using both body mass index (BMI) and mid-upper-arm circumference (MUAC). The results from the BMI analysis revealed that 28.1% of the women were malnourished (BMI <18.5) and 67.5% were normal (BMI 18.5 to <25.0), while the remaining small proportion (4.5%) fell in the overweight or obese categories. Similarly, the computation of maternal nutritional status by MUAC analysis showed that 31.4% of the women were malnourished (MUAC <22). Further analysis of the main predictors of maternal malnutrition using logistic regression showed that three individual-level variables and three household-level variables predicted maternal malnutrition: woman's age, duration of breast-feeding, literacy status, marital form, land size and intra-household food distribution. The study concludes that maternal malnutrition is a serious problem in the study area and that there are contextual risk factors that could be addressed to partially tackle the problem.

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