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Am J Hum Biol. 2009 Nov-Dec;21(6):844-51. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.20902.

Does being an orphan decrease the nutritional status of Luo children?

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Department of Social Medicine, Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Athens, Ohio 45701, USA.


The HIV/AIDS pandemic is creating a generation of orphaned children in Africa. The number of orphans will continue to increase long after the HIV/AIDS crisis has peaked; therefore, it is important to determine how best to assist these children. Current studies investigating the impact of orphanhood have conflicting results and conclusions. Several studies report that orphans are at a disadvantage and are more likely to suffer from malnutrition, whereas other studies report no difference between the nutritional status of orphans and nonorphans. Four hundred eleven Luo children (mean age 9 +/- 1 years) were recruited to participate in a study investigating the impact of orphanhood on nutritional status. Participants underwent an interview, anthropometric measurements, testing for anemia, a clinical history, and a physical exam. Anthropometric variables and hemoglobin level were compared across groups using a t-test. The reference population used for comparison of anthropometric variables is the 2000 CDC growth reference data. All analyses were gender specific, and the effect of length of orphanhood was also investigated. The data presented here suggest that there is no significant difference between the nutritional status of orphaned and nonorphaned Luo children. This study supports research indicating there is little, if any, difference in nutritional indicators between orphans and nonorphans. Orphans may live in households with higher socioeconomic statuses than nonorphans. Luo orphans may not be at higher risk for poor nutritional status than nonorphans; therefore, interventions targeted at this age group should include both orphaned and nonorphaned children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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