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Seasonal variations in the nutritional status of urban Gambian children

  • A. M. Tomkins (a1), D. T. Dunn (a1), R. J. Hayes (a1) and A. K. Bradley (a1)

Abstract

1. Children aged 6–35 months in an urban community in The Gambia, West Africa, were weighed and their lengths measured at four surveys over an 18-month period, twice towards the end of the rains, and twice during the dry season.

2. Relative to international standards, height-for-age deteriorated steadily with age, while weight-for-age fell sharply in the second-half of infancy but showed no further deterioration from 12 to 35 months of age.

3. Height-for-age showed little seasonal variation, but weight-for-age and weight-for-height were lower at the end of the rains than during the dry season. Weight and height velocities were much lower during the rains than in the dry season, with more than 20% of the children losing weight during the rains. Possible reasons for these seasonal variations are discussed. Compensatory weight gain in the dry season exceeded the velocity expected from the standards in children aged 12 months or more, but height velocity fell below the standards all year.

4. The results are compared with previous findings from Keneba, a rural Gambian village. Weight velocity during the dry season was similar in the two communities, but the village children experienced a sharper decline in weight gain during the rains.

5. These results suggest that seasonal ecological factors may seriously influence the nutritional status of children living in an urban environment with adequate availability of food.

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References

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Seasonal variations in the nutritional status of urban Gambian children

  • A. M. Tomkins (a1), D. T. Dunn (a1), R. J. Hayes (a1) and A. K. Bradley (a1)

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