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Despite emerging evidence regarding the reversibility of stunting at older ages, most stunting research continues to focus on children below 5 years of age. We aimed to assess stunting prevalence and examine the sociodemographic distribution of stunting risk among older children and adolescents in a Malaysian population.
We used cross-sectional data on 6759 children and adolescents aged 6–19 years living in Segamat, Malaysia. We compared prevalence estimates for stunting defined using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) references, using Cohen's κ coefficient. Associations between sociodemographic indices and stunting risk were examined using mixed-effects Poisson regression with robust standard errors.
The classification of children and adolescents as stunted or normal height differed considerably between the two references (CDC v. WHO; κ for agreement: 0.73), but prevalence of stunting was high regardless of reference (crude prevalence: CDC 29.2%; WHO: 19.1%). Stunting risk was approximately 19% higher among underweight v. normal weight children and adolescents (p = 0.030) and 21% lower among overweight children and adolescents (p = 0.001), and decreased strongly with improved household drinking water sources [risk ratio (RR) for water piped into house: 0.35, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.30–0.41, p < 0.001). Protective effects were also observed for improved sanitation facilities (RR for flush toilet: 0.41, 95% CI 0.19–0.88, p = 0.023). Associations were not materially affected in multiple sensitivity analyses.
Our findings justify a framework for strategies addressing stunting across childhood, and highlight the need for consensus on a single definition of stunting in older children and adolescents to streamline monitoring efforts.
Recent research implicates antibiotic use as a potential contributor to child obesity risk. In this narrative review, we examine current observational evidence on the relation between antibiotic use in early childhood and subsequent measures of child body mass.
We searched PubMed, Web of Science and the Cochrane Library to identify studies that assessed antibiotic exposure before 3 years of age and subsequent measures of body mass or risk of overweight or obesity in childhood.
We identified 13 studies published before October 2017, based on a total of 6 81 332 individuals, which examined the relation between early life antibiotic exposure and measures of child body mass. Most studies did not appropriately account for confounding by indication for antibiotic use. Overall, we found no consistent and conclusive evidence of associations between early life antibiotic use and later child body mass [minimum overall adjusted odds ratio (aOR) reported: 1.01, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.98–1.04, N = 2 60 556; maximum overall aOR reported: 2.56, 95% CI 1.36–4.79, N = 616], with no clinically meaningful increases in weight reported (maximum increase: 1.50 kg at 15 years of age). Notable methodological differences between studies, including variable measures of association and inclusion of confounders, limited more comprehensive interpretations.
Evidence to date is insufficient to indicate that antibiotic use is an important risk factor for child obesity, or leads to clinically important differences in weight. Further comparable studies using routine clinical data may help clarify this association.
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