BACKGROUND:Child health interventions were drastically scaled up in the period leading up to 2015 as countries aimed at meeting the 2015 target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). MDGs were defined in terms of achieving improvements in average health. Significant improvements in average child health are documented, but evidence also points to rising inequality. It is important to investigate factors that drive the increasing disparities in order to inform the post-2015 development agenda of reducing inequality, as captured in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We investigated changes in socioeconomic inequality in stunting and fever in Zambia in 2007 and 2014. Unlike the huge literature that seeks to quantify the contribution of different determinants on the observed inequality at any given time, we quantify determinants of changes in inequality.METHODS:Data from the 2007 and 2014 waves of the Zambia Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) were utilized. Our sample consisted of children aged 0-5 years (n = 5,616 in 2007 and n = 12,714 in 2014). We employed multilevel models to assess the determinants of stunting and fever, which are two important child health indicators. The concentration index (CI) was used to measure the magnitude of inequality. Changes in inequality of stunting and fever were investigated using Oaxaca-type decomposition of the CI. In this approach, the change in the CI for stunting/fever is decomposed into changes in CI for each determinant and changes in the effect-measured as an elasticity-of each determinant on stunting/fever.
RESULTS:While average rates of stunting reduced in 2014 socioeconomic inequality in stunting increased significantly. Inequality in fever incidence also increased significantly, but average rates of fever did not reduce. The increase in the inequality (CI) of determinants accounted for the largest part (42.5%) of the increase in inequality of stunting, while the increase in the effect of determinants explained 35% of the increase. The determinants with the greatest total contribution (change in CI plus change in effect) to the increase in inequality of stunting were mother's height and weight, wealth, birth order, facility delivery, duration of breastfeeding, and maternal education. For fever, almost all (86%) the increase in inequality was accounted for by the increase in the effect of determinants of fever, while the distribution of determinants mattered less. The determinants with the greatest total contribution to the increase in inequality of fever were wealth, maternal education, birth order and breastfeeding duration. In the multilevel model, we found that the likelihood of a child being stunted or experiencing fever depends on the community in which they live.
CONCLUSIONS: To curb the increase in inequality of stunting and fever, policy may focus on improving levels of, and reducing inequality in, access to facility deliveries, maternal nutrition (which may be related to maternal weight and height), complementary feeding (for breastfed children), wealth, maternal education, and child care (related to birth order effects). Improving overall levels of these determinants contribute to the persistence of inequality if these determinants are unequally concentrated on the well off to begin with.
Poor vitamin D status has been associated with increased risk and severity of respiratory tract infections. Whether or not inflammation and infection affects 25-hydroxy vitamin D (25(OH)D) concentration is controversial and is important in the interpretation of observational studies using plasma-25(OH)D as a biomarker for status. Our objectives were to measure whether 25(OH)D concentration was altered by an episode of acute lower respiratory tract infection and whether markers of inflammation predicted the 25(OH)D concentration. Children aged 2-35 months with severe (n = 43) and non-severe (n = 387) community-acquired, WHO-defined pneumonia were included. 25(OH)D concentration and inflammatory markers (cytokines, chemokines, and growth factors) were measured in plasma during the acute phase and 14, 45, and 90 days later. Predictors for 25(OH)D concentrations were identified in multiple linear regression models. Mean 25(OH)D concentration during the acute phase and after recovery (14, 45, and 90 days) was 84.4 nmol/L ± 33.6, and 80.6 ± 35.4, respectively. None of the inflammatory markers predicted 25(OH)D concentration in the multiple regression models. Age was the most important predictor for 25(OH)D concentration, and there were no differences in 25(OH)D concentrations during illness and after 14, 45, and 90 days when adjusting for age. Infection and inflammation did not alter the 25(OH)D concentration in young children with acute lower respiratory tract infections.
KEYWORDS: Nepal; acute lower respiratory tract infection; children; inflammation; vitamin D
Objective To assess the efficacy of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF), centrally produced RUTF (RUTF-C) or locally prepared RUTF (RUTF-L) for home-based management of uncomplicated severe acute malnutrition (SAM) compared with micronutrient-enriched (augmented) energy-dense home-prepared foods (A-HPF, the comparison group).
Methods In an individually randomised multicentre trial, we enrolled 906 children aged 6–59 months with uncomplicated SAM. The children enrolled were randomised to receive RUTF-C, RUTF-L or A-HPF. We provided foods, counselling and feeding support until recovery or 16 weeks, whichever was earlier and measured outcomes weekly (treatment phase). We subsequently facilitated access to government nutrition services and measured outcomes once 16 weeks later (sustenance phase). The primary outcome was recovery during treatment phase (weight-for-height ≥−2 SD and absence of oedema of feet).
Results Recovery rates with RUTF-L, RUTF-C and A-HPF were 56.9%, 47.5% and 42.8%, respectively. The adjusted OR was 1.71 (95% CI 1.20 to 2.43; p=0.003) for RUTF-L and 1.28 (95% CI 0.90 to 1.82; p=0.164) for RUTF-C compared with A-HPF. Weight gain in the RUTF-L group was higher than in the A-HPF group (adjusted difference 0.90 g/kg/day, 95% CI 0.30 to 1.50; p=0.003). Time to recovery was shorter in both RUTF groups. Morbidity was high and similar across groups. At the end of the study, the proportion of children with weight-for-height Z-score (WHZ) >−2 was similar (adjusted OR 1.12, 95% CI 0.74 to 1.95; p=0.464), higher for moderate malnutrition (WHZ<−2 and ≥−3; adjusted OR 1.46, 95% CI 1.02 to 2.08; p=0.039), and lower for those with SAM (adjusted OR 0.58, 95% CI 0.40 to 0.85; p=0.005) in the RUTF-L when compared with the A-HPF group.
Conclusions This first randomised trial comparing options for home management of uncomplicated SAM confirms that RUTF-L is more efficacious than A-HPF at home. Recovery rates were lower than in African studies, despite longer treatment and greater support for feeding