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Risk Factors for Severe Acute Malnutrition in Children below 5 y of Age in India: A Case-Control Study

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To determine the possible risk factors for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in children below 5 y admitted in a hospital in north India.


This case-control study was conducted in a medical college hospital in children below 5 y of age. All cases of SAM (diagnosed as per WHO definition) between 6 and 59 mo of age were compared with age-matched controls with weight for height above -2SD of WHO 2006 growth standards. Data regarding socio-demographic parameters, feeding practices and immunization were compared between the groups by univariable and multivariable logistic regression models.


A total of 76 cases and 115 controls were enrolled. Among the 14 factors compared, maternal illiteracy, daily family income less than Rs. 200, large family size, lack of exclusive breast feeding in first 6 mo, bottle feeding, administration of pre-lacteals, deprivation of colostrum and incomplete immunization were significant risk factors for SAM. Regarding complementary feeding, it was the consistency, rather than the age of initiation, frequency and variety which showed a significant influence on occurrence of SAM. Multivariate analysis revealed that the risk of SAM was independently associated with 6 factors, namely, illiteracy among mothers, incomplete immunization, practice of bottle feeding, consistency of complementary feeding, deprivation of colostrum and receipt of prelacteals at birth.


The present study identifies certain risk factors which need to be focused on during health planning and policy making related to children with SAM in India.

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Correspondence to Praveen Kumar.

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Mishra, K., Kumar, P., Basu, S. et al. Risk Factors for Severe Acute Malnutrition in Children below 5 y of Age in India: A Case-Control Study. Indian J Pediatr 81, 762–765 (2014).

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