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Ann Hum Biol. 1997 Nov-Dec;24(6):557-68.

Weight, height and arm circumference of children under 5 in the district of Mbarara, south-west Uganda.

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Instituto di Statistica Medica e Biometria, Università di Milano, Italy.


This paper describes the growth of weight, height and arm circumference (MUAC) in children aged under 5 years and living in the south-west area of Uganda. The survey was carried out in 1988 and was based on a random sample of 31 villages of the Mbarara district. A total of 4320 children were measured by a team of 20 trained assessors. From these children a reference group was made up of the 3654 known to be still alive after 1 year. Growth charts were drawn by smoothing the non-parametric percentiles of the distribution of height, weight and MUAC for age and of weight for height. The anthropometric characteristics of children living in south-west Uganda differ considerably from those of children on which the FELS/NCHS/WHO references are based. Between 1 and 5 years of age, the median difference between Mbarara and American children increases from 1.5 to 3 kg for weight, from 4 to 7 cm for height, and from 1.5 to 2.5 cm for MUAC. These results imply that the use of the international reference may lead to low specificity and predictive values in screening malnourished children living in an underdeveloped country such as Uganda. The charts here proposed may apply to populations with a lifestyle similar to that of inhabitants of south-west Uganda, both from a nutritional and socioeconomic viewpoint.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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