Advances in Pediatric Research

Advances in Pediatric Research
Open Access

ISSN: 2385-4529


Chronic stunting among under-5 children in Bangladesh: A situation analysis

Anwar Islam, Tuhin Biswas

Malnutrition is a major problem in many developing countries, including Bangladesh. Chronic malnutrition is a major cause of mortality and morbidity among children under the age of five years. Although Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in reducing mortality in the under-fives, chronic stunting remains a formidable challenge for the country. Based on an analysis of available secondary data, this paper illustrates the current status of chronic stunting in Bangladesh. Data on selected relevant indicators such as gender, urban/rural residence, level of mother’s education, and income by wealth quintiles were extracted from the Bangladesh Health and Demography Surveys from 2004, 2007, and 2011. The data clearly suggest a strong relationship between selected socio-economic variables and stunting among children under the age of five. In rural areas, stunting prevalence rate was found to be more than six times higher than in urban areas. Income inequality was also a significant predictor of stunting. Children from the lowest wealth quintile are twice as likely to be stunted as children from the highest wealth quintile (54% of children under five in the lowest quintile compared to 27% of their counterparts in the highest wealth quintile). Similarly, the level of mother’s education is strongly related to stunting: the higher the level of mothers’ education, the lower the prevalence rate of stunting among children under five. Since wealth or income is a strong predictor of place of residence (urban/rural) as well as mothers’ level of education, it can be generally concluded that inequity is the primary determinant of stunting among children under five. Bangladesh must forcefully address inequity in order to tackle the overwhelming prevalence of stunting among children under five. Despite making impressive gains to improve major health and development indicators at the macro level, Bangladesh has so far failed to adequately address the underlying issue of inequity