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Head Circumference Based Nutritional Status of Rural Bengalee Preschool Children from Sagar Island, West Bengal, India

Som Prasad Giri, Sadaruddin Biswas and Kaushik Bose


Undernutrition is one of the major causes of growth retardation and mortality among preschool children in developing countries including India. Head circumference (HC) is considered a physical index of both previous nutritional status and brain development in pediatrics. It is a routine measurement to assess brain development since micro and macrocephaly are important indicators of brain pathology. However, there exists insufficient information on the prevalence of undernutrition as a cause of low HC among preschool children of rural West Bengal. The aim of the present study was to assess nutritional status of preschool children using WHO-2007 HC cut-off points. This study was carried out among 3-5 years old rural preschool children (326 boys, 330 girls) of Bengalee ethnicity at 28 Integrated Child Development Services centers of Sagar Block, South 24 Parganas District, West Bengal, India. Anthropometric measurement (HC in cm) was recorded according to standard procedure, and HC based nutritional status was done following the World Health Organization guidelines. The age-combined mean values of HC were 47.63 (± 2.13) cm and 46.82 (± 1.32) cm among boys and girls, respectively. A significant sex difference was found in age-combined mean value of HC (t = 5.86, p<0.001). The age-combined rates of undernutrition among boys and girls were 28.83% and 42.12%, respectively. This sex difference was statistically significant. Our study revealed that moderate undernutrition is more prevalent than severe undernutrition in both sexes. Since HC, brain development, intelligence quotient, learning and nutrition are all inter-related, appropriate steps should be taken to improve the nutritional status of under-five children in this studied area.

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