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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 1020-4989

Abstract

NESTEL, Penelope; MELLARA, Alejandro; ROSADO, Jorge  and  MORA, Jose O.. Nutrition of Honduran mothers/caretakers. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 1999, vol.5, n.3, pp. 164-171. ISSN 1020-4989.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49891999000300005.

In 1996, the Honduran Ministry of Health conducted a national micronutrient survey of children 12-71 months old, which also included an assessment of the nutrition status of their mothers/caretakers. The 1 126 mothers/caretakers who participated in the survey tended to be short and plump. About 15% of them were at obstetric risk by virtue of their short stature and/or low body weight. About 9% had chronic energy deficiency (CED), but 27% were at least 20% overweight. CED was associated with socioeconomic indicators of poverty. Risk factors for being at least 20% overweight included being over 30 years old, not breast-feeding, having attended no higher than grade 4, 5, or 6 of primary school, coming from a wealthier household, and living in San Pedro Sula or medium-sized cities. Among the women surveyed, 26% of nonpregnant and 32% of pregnant mothers/caretakers were anemic. The likely principal cause of anemia was the low intake of bioavailable iron from food and, in some cases, exces sive iron loss associ ated with intestinal parasites, especially hookworm. Only 50% of the mothers/caretakers participating in this study had received iron during their last pregnancy, and just 13% had received postpartum vitamin A. The results highlight the need to develop and implement an effective program to control iron deficiency anemia in women of reproductive age, including by fortifying such widely consumed foods as processed wheat and maize flour and by routinely administering iron supplements to high-risk groups. Postpartum vitamin A supplementation should be encouraged to protect both the mother and newborn infant against vitamin A deficiency.

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