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African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development
Rural Outreach Program
ISSN: 1684-5358
EISSN: 1684-5374
Vol. 10, No. 1, 2010, pp. 2024-2039
Bioline Code: nd10007
Full paper language: English
Document type: Research Article
Document available free of charge

African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, Vol. 10, No. 1, 2010, pp. 2024-2039

 en Growth Performance And Iron Status Of Rural Beninese School-Age Children In Post- And Pre-Harvest Season
Mitchikpe, CES; Dossa, RAM; Ategbo, EAD; van Raaij, JMA & Kok, FJ


Malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies are major public health problems in developing countries. Most affected groups are children, adolescents, women of reproductive age and pregnant women. School-age children also represent an important vulnerable age category because they are still in the middle of their growth process which implies that their diets should supply appropriate macro- and micronutrients for an adequate growth and development. A better nutrition in schoolage children is associated with increased school performances and a better school achievement. School-age children are dependent on their parents for access to adequate foods and nutrition but, in areas characterised by a unimodal climate with only one rainy season and one dry season, seasonal variation in food availability may also influence their nutritional status. The present study was undertaken to analyse the growth performance and iron status of school-age children in rural Benin, not only in relation to season but also to school attendance. The study was carried out in three villages in the Atacora province in northern Benin. Eighty children aged 6 to 8 years were randomly selected. Anthropometric parameters, haemoglobin level, serum ferritin and C-reactive protein were measured in the same children in the post-harvest season and the next pre-harvest season. Complete anthropometric data sets were available for 74 children while for blood analysis 69 children completed the study. In the post-harvest season, mean Z-scores for height-for-age and for weight-for-height were -1.72 ± 0.89 and -0.89 ± 0.62, respectively. The Z-score for height-for-age of children attending school (-1.55 ± 0.87) was significantly different from that of children not attending school (-2.14 ± 0.80) (P<0.05). In the post-harvest season, haemoglobin level was 119 ± 13 g/l and median serum ferritin level was 36μg/l. The haemoglobin level of children attending school (121 ± 13 g/l) was significantly different from that of children not attending school (114 ± 12 g/l) (P<0.05). The school-age children have poor growth performance and poor iron status that did not differ between seasons. The reasons behind the difference in nutritional status in relation to school attendance need further investigation.

Growth, iron status, school-age, seasonality

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