Nutritional status of indigenous children: findings from the First National Survey of Indigenous People’s Health and Nutrition in BrazilReportar como inadecuado

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International Journal for Equity in Health

, 12:23

First Online: 03 April 2013Received: 27 November 2012Accepted: 26 March 2013DOI: 10.1186-1475-9276-12-23

Cite this article as: Horta, B.L., Santos, R.V., Welch, J.R. et al. Int J Equity Health 2013 12: 23. doi:10.1186-1475-9276-12-23


IntroductionThe prevalence of undernutrition, which is closely associated with socioeconomic and sanitation conditions, is often higher among indigenous than non-indigenous children in many countries. In Brazil, in spite of overall reductions in the prevalence of undernutrition in recent decades, the nutritional situation of indigenous children remains worrying. The First National Survey of Indigenous People’s Health and Nutrition in Brazil, conducted in 2008–2009, was the first study to evaluate a nationwide representative sample of indigenous peoples. This paper presents findings from this study on the nutritional status of indigenous children < 5 years of age in Brazil.

MethodsA multi-stage sampling was employed to obtain a representative sample of the indigenous population residing in villages in four Brazilian regions North, Northeast, Central-West, and Southeast-South. Initially, a stratified probabilistic sampling was carried out for indigenous villages located in these regions. Households in sampled villages were selected by census or systematic sampling depending on the village population. The survey evaluated the health and nutritional status of children < 5 years, in addition to interviewing mothers or caretakers.

ResultsHeight and weight measurements were taken of 6,050 and 6,075 children, respectively. Prevalence rates of stunting, underweight, and wasting were 25.7%, 5.9%, and 1.3%, respectively. Even after controlling for confounding, the prevalence rates of underweight and stunting were higher among children in the North region, in low socioeconomic status households, in households with poorer sanitary conditions, with anemic mothers, with low birthweight, and who were hospitalized during the prior 6 months. A protective effect of breastfeeding for underweight was observed for children under 12 months.

ConclusionsThe elevated rate of stunting observed in indigenous children approximates that of non-indigenous Brazilians four decades ago, before major health reforms greatly reduced its occurrence nationwide. Prevalence rates of undernutrition were associated with socioeconomic variables including income, household goods, schooling, and access to sanitation services, among other variables. Providing important baseline data for future comparison, these findings further suggest the relevance of social, economic, and environmental factors at different scales local, regional, and national for the nutritional status of indigenous peoples.

KeywordsBrazil Indigenous peoples Health surveys Nutrition surveys Health status indicators Epidemiologic measurements Child health Nutritional status AbbreviationsABRASCOAssociação Brasileira de Saúde Coletiva

CIConfidence interval

CONEPComissão Nacional de Ética em Pesquisa

FUNAIFundação Nacional do Índio

FUNASAFundação Nacional de Saúde

PRPrevalence ratio.

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1475-9276-12-23 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Autor: Bernardo L Horta - Ricardo Ventura Santos - James R Welch - Andrey M Cardoso - Janaína Vieira dos Santos - Ana Marlúc


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