Infant and young child feeding practices in urban Philippines and their associations with stunting, anemia, and deficiencies in iron and vitamin A


Background: The prevalence of stunting, underweight, and micronutrient deficiencies are persistently high in young children in the Philippines, and among other factors, suboptimal infant and young child feeding behavior may contribute to these forms of malnutrition.

Objective: To improve the understanding of contributors associated with the nutritional status of children 6 to 23 months of age living in urban areas of the Philippines.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted covering five urban centers in the Philippines. Data on infant and young child feeding and nutritional status (including wasting, stunting, underweight, anemia, iron deficiency, and vitamin A deficiency) were collected for 1,784 children.

Results: Among children from urban and predominantly poor and very poor households, 26% were stunted, 18% were underweight, and 5% were wasted. Forty-two percent were anemic, 28% were iron deficient, and 3% were vitamin A deficient. About half of the children were breastfed within an hour after birth, were breastfed at the time of the survey, and had been continuously breastfed up to 1 year of age. Of the factors investigated, low socio-economic status, use of cheaper cooking fuel, and nonuse of multivitamins were all independently associated with stunting. The prevalence of anemia, iron deficiency, and vitamin A deficiency were independently associated with the same factors and poorer sanitation facilities, lower maternal education, current unemployment, and inflammation.

Conclusions: These factors merit attention in future programming, and interventions may include promotion of the timely introduction of appropriate fortified complementary foods, the use of affordable multiple micronutrient preparations, and measures to reduce infections.

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