Prevalence and Major Contributors of Child Malnutrition in Developing Countries: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Introduction: Malnutrition Ignited from various underlying causes and inequalities was part of the human phenomenon and daily encountering bad news. Children, pregnant and lactating women, an old and sick person were highly vulnerable to inequalities and malnutrition; requiring special focus to addresses underlying cause in addition; to the provision of dietary assistance.

Objective: The main objective of this systematic review and meta-analysis was determining the prevalence and major contributors of under-five children malnutrition in developing countries.

Methods and materials: We conducted an exhaustive search of literature published between 2006 and 2015 on under-five malnutrition using pub med, Embase, and Google Scholar search engine. Data has been abstracted from 10 articles published in developing countries. For data abstraction, excel spreadsheet was used. In addition; STATA 11 software was used to run meta-analysis, subgroup analysis, and meta-regression.

Finding: Even though heterogeneity was high between studies the overall prevalence under-five malnutrition in developing countries was about 43% but it varies between 20% and 71%. Meta-analysis and subgroup analysis has revealed high heterogeneity between included studies and meta-regression by using the year of publication as covariate has indicated insignificant coefficient.

Discussion and Conclusion: Under-five children’s nutritional problem was embedded in health and nutritional status of mothers during adolescence, pregnancy and breastfeeding periods. Factors like food insecurity coping strategies, the health status of children, maternal health, political systems the country, and communities cultural background were major determinants of under-five children malnutrition. Strategies developed against under five children malnutrition has to focus on prevention, treatment, and control through considering nutrition specific and nutritionsensitive programs with evidence-based; multi-level and multi-stakeholder involvement.


Tebeje NB, Bikes GA, Abebe SM, Yesuf ME

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