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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


BUITRON, Diego; HURTIG, Anna-Karin  and  SAN SEBASTIAN, Miguel. Nutritional status of Naporuna children under five in the Amazon region of Ecuador. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2004, vol.15, n.3, pp.151-159. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the nutritional status of Naporuna children under five years of age from the Amazon region of Ecuador, and to identify risk factors for developing malnutrition in this population group. METHODS: A survey-based cross-sectional study was carried out in Orellana, a province in northeastern Ecuador, between June 2001 and February 2002. Household interviews were conducted in 30 communities chosen at random, and a questionnaire was used to record the following: the social and demographic characteristics and parity of mothers having children under five years of age, and the children's demographic and anthropometric characteristics, history of breastfeeding, and medical conditions suffered over the two-week period just prior to the survey. Each child was also subjected to a physical examination. Anemia was diagnosed clinically by conjunctival exam. The statistical association among variables was determined by means of the chi-square test, with use of Yates' correction and Fisher's exact test (two-tailed) when there were 5 observations or less. Risk factors for chronic malnutrition and underweight were determined by means of logistic regression. RESULTS: Overall, 189 mothers of 347 children under five were interviewed. Of these 347 children, 307 (88.5%) participated in the study. Chronic malnutrition was found in 22.8% of the children; 26.4% were underweight, and 9.8% had acute malnutrition. Moreover, 7.5% had severe chronic malnutrition; 4.9% were severely underweight, and 1.6% had severe acute malnutrition. A total of 5 children (1.6%) showed signs of both chronic and acute malnutrition. The largest prevalence of chronic malnutrition was found in the 12-23 month age group. Risk factors for chronic malnutrition that were statistically significant included living in an area without access to a road, the total number of children in the family (>7), and the presence of an acute respiratory infection or abdominal distension on the day the physical examination was performed. Abdominal distension and pale conjunctiva on physical examination were predictive for underweight. CONCLUSIONS: Among the Naporuna children under 5 years of age included in this study, the prevalences of acute malnutrition and underweight appeared to be higher than had been previously detected among other populations in the Amazon region. More studies on the prevalence of parasitic infections and anemia and on the feeding practices and dietary habits of indigenous communities are needed in order to better understand their nutritional intake. A program for monitoring the diet of indigenous peoples is necessary and should be established.

Keywords : Estado nutricional; lactantes; preescolar; indios sudamericanos; Ecuador.

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