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New approach suggested for monitoring child health in developing countries
Date:2/1/2011

sts showed that changes in the number of mild cases were more closely linked to child mortality than changes in the number of extreme cases," Masters says. "Change in the number of mild cases was also more closely correlated with local agricultural output." Co-authors of the study were Susan Chen, PhD, now an assistant professor at the University of Alabama, and Dr. Priya Bhagowalia, PhD, now an associate professor at TERI University in New Dehli, India. The paper derives from Bhagowalia's PhD dissertation at Purdue University, where she was advised by Masters and Chen.

"Our results are getting at how child nutrition is linked to broader public health concerns," Masters says. "For an individual child, severe underweight is much worse than mild underweight. Mildly undernourished children face only a small increase in their own mortality risk. But when a lot of children fall behind, something dangerous could be happening, perhaps the spread of contagious disease, a worsening of water quality, or food shortages."

Masters stressed that these results are just the beginning to opening up a new avenue of research. "Our results are based on one kind of data from the DHS surveys," he says. "We need to test for this relationship in other settings. If changes in mild undernutrition remain a useful predictor of child mortality, then health authorities around the world could use it as an early-warning signal to guide intervention before much of the damage occurs."


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Contact: Andrea Grossman
617-636-3728
Tufts University, Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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