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During the COVID-19 pandemic, the authorities made a change in the classification of malnutrition and concomitant service delivery protocol among the Rohingya children, residing in world’s largest refugee camp, located in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. In this paper, we discussed the potential implications of this updated protocol on the malnutrition status among children residing in the Rohingya camps.
This paper reviewed relevant literature and authors’ own experience to provide a perspective of the updated protocol for the classification of malnutrition among the children in the Rohingya camps and its implication from a broader perspective.
Rohingya refugee camps, Bangladesh.
Children aged less than five years residing in the Rohingya camps.
Major adaptation during this COVID-19 was the discontinuation of using weight-for-height z-score (WHZ) and the use of only mid upper arm circumference (MUAC) and presence of oedema for admission, follow-up and discharge of malnourished children in the camps. However, evidence suggests that use of MUAC only can underestimate the prevalence of malnutrition among the children in Rohingya camps. These apparently non-malnourished children are devoid of the rations that they would otherwise receive if classified as malnourished, making them susceptible to more severe malnutrition.
Our analysis suggests that policymakers should consider using the original protocol of using both MUAC and WHZ to classify malnutrition and retain the guided ration size. We also believe that it would not take an extra effort to adopt the original guideline as even with MUAC only guideline, certain health measures needed to adopt during this pandemic.
Malnutrition among adolescents is often associated with inadequate dietary diversity (DD). We aimed to explore the prevalence of inadequate DD and its socio-economic determinants among adolescent girls and boys in Bangladesh. A cross-sectional survey was conducted during the 2018–19 round of national nutrition surveillance in Bangladesh. Univariate and multivariable logistic regression was performed to identify the determinants of inadequate DD among adolescent girls and boys separately. This population-based survey covered eighty-two rural, non-slum urban and slum clusters from all divisions of Bangladesh. A total of 4865 adolescent girls and 4907 adolescent boys were interviewed. The overall prevalence of inadequate DD was higher among girls (55⋅4 %) than the boys (50⋅6 %). Moreover, compared to boys, the prevalence of inadequate DD was higher among the girls for almost all socio-economic categories. Poor educational attainment, poor maternal education, female-headed household, household food insecurity and poor household wealth were associated with increased chances of having inadequate DD in both sexes. In conclusion, more than half of the Bangladeshi adolescent girls and boys consumed an inadequately diversified diet. The socio-economic determinants of inadequate DD should be addressed through context-specific multisectoral interventions.
The World Health Organization set a target of a 15% relative reduction in the prevalence of insufficient physical activity (IPA) by 2025 among adolescents and adults globally. In Bangladesh, there are no national estimates of the prevalence of IPA among adolescents. The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of and risk factors associated with IPA among adolescent girls and boys. Data for 4865 adolescent girls and 4907 adolescent boys, collected as a part of a National Nutrition Surveillance in 2018–19, were analysed for this study. A modified version of the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPAQ) was used to collect physical activity data. The World Health Organization recommended cut-off points were used to estimate the prevalence of IPA. Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression was performed to identify factors associated with IPA. Prevalences of IPA among adolescent girls and boys were 50.3% and 29.0%, respectively, and the prevalence was significantly higher among early adolescents (10–14 years) than late adolescents (15–19 years) among both boys and girls. The IPA prevalence was highest among adolescents living in non-slum urban areas (girls: 77.7%; boys: 64.1%). For both boys and girls, younger age, non-slum urban residence, higher paternal education and increased television viewing time were significantly associated with IPA. Additionally, residing in slums was significantly associated with IPA only among the boys. Higher maternal education was associated with IPA only among the girls. This study identified several modifiable risk factors associated with IPA among adolescent boys and girls in Bangladesh. These factors should be addressed through comprehensive public health interventions to promote physical activity among adolescent girls and boys.
Household food insecurity (HFI) is a major concern in South Asia. The pathways by which HFI may reduce child growth remain inadequately understood. In a cohort study of 12 693 maternal–infant dyads in rural Bangladesh, we examined association and likely explanatory pathways linking HFI, assessed using a validated nine-item perception-based index, to infant size at 6 months. Mothers were assessed early in pregnancy for anthropometric status, dietary diversity and socio-economic status. Infants were assessed for weight, length, and arm, chest and head circumferences and breast and complementary feeding status at birth and 6 months of age. Extent of HFI shared a negative, dose–response association with all measures of infant size at 6 months and odds of wasting and stunting; 57–89 % of variances in the unadjusted models were explained by prenatal factors (maternal nutritional status and dietary diversity), and birth size adjusted for gestational age. Postnatal infant breast and complementary feeding and morbidity exposures explained the remaining fraction of the significant association between HFI and differences in infant arm and chest circumferences and odds of underweight. Contextual (i.e. socio-economic) factors finally brought remaining non-significant fractions of the food insecurity-related mid-infancy growth deficit to practically zero. Improving food security prior to pregnancy and during gestation would likely improve infant growth the most in rural Bangladesh.
Asian populations have a higher percentage body fat (%BF) and are at higher risk for CVD and related complications at a given BMI compared with those of European descent. We explored whether %BF was disproportionately elevated in rural Bangladeshi women with low BMI. Height, weight, mid-upper arm circumference, triceps and subscapular skinfolds and bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) were measured in 1555 women at 3 months postpartum. %BF was assessed by skinfolds and by BIA. BMI was calculated in adults and BMI Z-scores were calculated for females <20 years old. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves found the BMI and BMI Z-score cut-offs that optimally classified women as having moderately excessive adipose tissue (defined as >30 % body fat). Linear regressions estimated the association between BMI and BMI Z-score (among adolescents) and %BF. Mean BMI was 19·2 (sd 2·2) kg/m2, and mean %BF was calculated as 23·7 (sd 4·8) % by skinfolds and 23·3 (sd 4·9) % by BIA. ROC analyses indicated that a BMI value of approximately 21 kg/m2 optimised sensitivity (83·6 %) and specificity (84·2 %) for classifying subjects with >30 % body fat according to BIA among adults. This BMI level is substantially lower than the WHO recommended standard cut-off point of BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2. The equivalent cut-off among adolescents was a BMI Z-score of –0·36, with a sensitivity of 81·3 % and specificity of 80·9 %. These findings suggest that Bangladeshi women exhibit excess adipose tissue at substantially lower BMI compared with non-South Asian populations. This is important for the identification and prevention of obesity-related metabolic diseases.
The objective of the current analysis was to explore the association of multiple micronutrients with Hb concentration among pregnant women in a South Asian setting, a topic that has not been adequately explored.
Sociodemographic, anthropometric and micronutrient status (plasma ferritin, transferrin receptor, retinol, α- and γ-tocopherol, folate, vitamin B12, Zn) and Hb concentration were assessed at early pregnancy.
The biochemical sub-study was nested within a double-blind, placebo-controlled, community-based vitamin A and β-carotene supplementation trial in rural north-western Bangladesh (JiVitA). All assessments were conducted before trial supplementation was initiated.
A systematic sample of 285 women was selected from those enrolled in the biochemical sub-study.
Seventeen per cent of women were mildly anaemic; moderate and severe anaemia was uncommon (2·1 %). α-Tocopherol, vitamin B12 and Zn deficiencies were common (43·5 %, 19·7 % and 14·7 %, respectively); however, vitamin A, folate and Fe deficiencies were comparatively rare (7·4 %, 2·8 % and <1 %, respectively). Plasma Zn, vitamin B12 and α-tocopherol were positively associated and plasma γ-tocopherol was negatively associated with Hb (P < 0·05) after adjustment for gestational age, inflammation status, season and nutritional status measured by mid-upper arm circumference.
Among pregnant women in rural Bangladesh with minimal Fe deficiency, plasma Zn, vitamin B12, and α- and γ-tocopherol concentrations were associated with Hb concentration. Appreciating the influence on Hb of micronutrients in addition to those with known associations with anaemia, such as Fe, folate, and vitamin A, is important when addressing anaemia in similar settings.
Equations for predicting body composition from bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) parameters are age-, sex- and population-specific. Currently there are no equations applicable to women of reproductive age in rural South Asia. Hence, we developed equations for estimating total body water (TBW), fat-free mass (FFM) and fat mass in rural Bangladeshi women using BIA, with 2H2O dilution as the criterion method. Women of reproductive age, participating in a community-based placebo-controlled trial of vitamin A or β-carotene supplementation, were enrolled at 19·7 (sd 9·3) weeks postpartum in a study to measure body composition by 2H2O dilution and impedance at 50 kHz using multi-frequency BIA (n 147), and resistance at 50 kHz using single-frequency BIA (n 82). TBW (kg) by 2H2O dilution was used to derive prediction equations for body composition from BIA measures. The prediction equation was applied to resistance measures obtained at 13 weeks postpartum in a larger population of postpartum women (n 1020). TBW, FFM and fat were 22·6 (sd 2·7), 30·9 (sd 3·7) and 10·2 (sd 3·8) kg by 2H2O dilution. Height2/impedance or height2/resistance and weight provided the best estimate of TBW, with adjusted R2 0·78 and 0·76, and with paired absolute differences in TBW of 0·02 (sd 1·33) and 0·00 (sd 1·28) kg, respectively, between BIA and 2H2O. In the larger sample, values for TBW, FFM and fat were 23·8, 32·5 and 10·3 kg, respectively. BIA can be an important tool for assessing body composition in women of reproductive age in rural South Asia where poor maternal nutrition is common.
Due to little outdoor activity and low dietary intake of vitamin D (VD), Bangladeshi low-income women are at risk for osteoporosis at an early age. The present study assessed the effect of VD, Ca and multiple micronutrient supplementation on VD and bone status in Bangladeshi young female garment factory workers. This placebo-controlled 1-year intervention randomly assigned 200 apparently healthy subjects (aged 16–36 years) to four groups: VD group, daily 10 μg VD; VD and Ca (VD-Ca) group, daily 10 μg VD+600 mg Ca; multiple micronutrient and Ca (MMN-Ca) group, 10 μg VD and other micronutrients+600 mg Ca; a placebo group. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (S-25OHD), intact parathyroid hormone (S-iPTH), Ca, phosphate and alkaline phosphatase were measured. Bone mineral density and bone mineral content were measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. All measurements were made at baseline and at 12 months. Significantly (P < 0·001) higher S-25OHD concentrations were observed in the supplemented groups than in the placebo group after the intervention. Supplementation had an effect (P < 0·001) on S-iPTH in the VD-Ca and MMN-Ca groups compared with the placebo group. Bone mineral augmentation increased at the femur in the supplemented groups. Supplementation with VD-Ca should be recommended as a strategic option to reduce the risk of osteomalacia and osteoporosis in these subjects. MMN-Ca may have analogous positive health implications with additional non-skeletal benefits.
To assess the nutritional status and risk factors of undernutrition in post-menarcheal girls in rural northern Bangladesh.
Cross-sectional data on anthropometric measurements, dietary intake, work activity, morbidity and socio-economic status were collected from 12- to 19-year-old primigravidae (n 209) and never-pregnant adolescents (n 456) matched on age and time since menarche. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to determine predictors of stunting, thinness, upper-arm muscle (UAMZ) and fat area Z-scores (UAFZ) among the adolescent girls.
A large proportion of adolescents (49 %) were stunted (height-for-age Z-score <−2) and underweight (40 %; weight-for-age Z-score <−2), but not thin (BMI-for-age <5th percentile; ∼10 %). The mean (sd) UAMZ and UAFZ of the adolescent girls was −0·3 (0·64) and −0·9 (0·40), respectively. Lean mass increased whereas fat mass declined with age. Both stunting and thinness were positively associated with age and time since menarche (P < 0·05). Young age (12–14 years) and literacy were protective against stunting among pregnant adolescents (OR = 0·29, 95 % CI 0·09, 0·88 and OR = 0·50, 95 % CI 0·26, 0·96, respectively). Having symptoms of diarrhoea or dysentery (OR = 7·40, 95 % CI 1·43, 38·29) predicted thinness and was associated with lower UAMZ and UAFZ among never-pregnant girls (both P < 0·05). Performing light-to-moderate activities was protective against thinness among never-pregnant girls (OR = 0·43, 95 % CI 0·22, 0·82), whereas pregnant adolescents who performed high levels of strenuous activities had greater UAMZ (P < 0·05).
Undernutrition was widespread among this post-menarcheal adolescent population. Younger and literate adolescents were less likely to be stunted, whereas thinness and body composition were associated with morbidity and work activity.
The manufacture of garments is the main industry in Bangladesh and employs 1·6 million female workers. Due to the indoor lifestyle and low dietary intake of calcium, we hypothesised that they are at risk of low vitamin D and bone mineral status. Two hundred female garment workers (aged 18–36 years) were randomly selected. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (S-25OHD), serum intact parathyroid hormone (S-iPTH), serum calcium (S-Ca), serum phosphate (S-P) concentration and serum alkaline phosphatase activity (S-ALP) were measured from fasting samples. Bone indexes of hip and spine were measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. The mean S-25OHD (36·7 nmol/l) was low compared to that recommended for vitamin D sufficiency. About 16 % of the subjects were found to be vitamin D-deficient (S-25OHD < 25 nmol/l). We observed a high prevalence (88·5 %) of vitamin D insufficiency (S-25OHD < 50 nmol/l) as well as a significant inverse relationship between S-25OHD and S-iPTH (r − 0·25, P ≤ 0·001). A decrease in S-25OHD ( < 38 nmol/l) and an increase in S-iPTH (>21 ng/l) was associated with progressive reduction in bone mineral density at the femoral neck and lumbar spine. According to the WHO criteria, the mean T-score of the femoral neck and lumbar spine of the subjects were within osteopenic range. We observed that subjects with a bone mineral density T-score < − 2·5 had a trend of lower values of BMI, waist–hip circumference, mid-upper-arm circumference, S-25OHD and higher S-iPTH and S-ALP. The high prevalence of hypovitaminosis D and low bone mineral density among these subjects are indicative of higher risk for osteomalacia or osteoporosis and fracture.
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