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Undernutrition among Kenyan children: contribution of child, maternal and household factors

  • Constance A Gewa (a1) and Nanette Yandell (a2)

To examine the contribution of selected child-, maternal- and household-related factors to child undernutrition across two different age groups of Kenyan under-5s.


Demographic and Health Survey data, multistage stratified cluster sampling methodology.


Rural and urban areas of Kenya.


A total of 1851 children between the ages of 0 and 24 months and 1942 children between the ages of 25 and 59 months in Kenya.


Thirty per cent of the younger children were stunted, 13 % were underweight and 8 % were wasted. Forty per cent of the older children were stunted, 17 % were underweight and 4 % were wasted. Longer breast-feeding duration, small birth size, childhood diarrhoea and/or cough, poor maternal nutritional status and urban residence were associated with higher odds of at least one form of undernutrition, while female gender, large birth size, up-to-date immunization, higher maternal age at first birth, BMI and education level at the time of the survey and higher household wealth were each associated with lower odds of at least one form of undernutrition among Kenyan children. The more proximal child factors had the strongest impact on the younger group of children while the intermediate and more distal maternal and household factors had the strongest impact on child undernutrition among the older group of children.


The present analysis identifies determinants of undernutrition among two age groups of Kenyan pre-school children and demonstrates that the contribution of child, maternal and household factors on children's nutritional status varies with children's age.

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