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To determine the nutritional status and household resources of preschool children.
A cross-sectional survey.
Two informal settlement areas, Joe Slovo (JS) and JB Mafora (JBM) in Mangaung, near Bloemfontein, South Africa.
Preschool children (<72 months) of a randomly selected sample of households in JS (experimental) (n = 162) and JBM (control) (n = 186) were included. Standard methods were used to obtain household and care-giver particulars, weight and height measurements, blood and stool samples, and 24-hour dietary recalls.
Breast-feeding and dietary intake in the two areas were nearly similar; breast-feeding was continued for 12 months and longer. Although the children's total protein intake was sufficient, their energy intake was low. A low median intake of micronutrients prevailed, including iron, zinc, calcium, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine and vitamins C, B6, A and D. The prevalence of being underweight (JS = 19.8%; JBM = 18.8%), stunted (JS = 29%; JBM = 21.5%) and wasted (JS = 6.5%; JBM = 3.7%) were fairly similar in both areas, as well as the prevalence of marginal vitamin A deficiency, anaemia, iron deficiency and parasite infestations. No significant associations could be found between household and nutritional status indicators, probably due to the small number of well-nourished children and the generally poor household situation of the participants.
The generally poor nutritional status and environmental conditions emphasize the urgency of intervention for these children.
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