Abstract

Background: Stunting adversely affects children’s health and development. Few studies on the prevalence of stunting and factors associated with stunting have been done in Upper Egypt.

Aims: This study aimed to determine the prevalence of and factors associated with stunting in schoolchildren in Sohag, Egypt.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional study conducted in 2017 in Sohag district. Two public schools were randomly selected (one urban, one rural) and all children in these schools aged 4–12 years whose parents consented were included in the study. Parents were interviewed to collect data on child and family characteristics. The children were examined for vitamin deficiency, anaemia and parasitic infection, and body mass index was calculated. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was done to determine factors significantly associated with stunting; odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) are given.

Results: A total of 1786 children were included (response rate 69%), of whom 329 (18.4%) were stunted (–2 z-score and below). Factors significantly associated with stunting were: parasite infestation (OR = 1.8, 95% CI: 1.3–2.5), anaemia (OR = 1.7, 95% CI: 1.3–2.7), low body mass index (OR = 1.2, 95% CI: 1.1–1.3), frequent gastroenteritis (OR = 1.1, 95% CI: 1.06–1.2), first-cousin consanguinity of parents (OR = 1.3, 95% CI: 1.2–1.6) and familial short stature (OR = 1.5, 95% CI: 1.2–2.1).

Conclusion: Screening and treatment of parasitic infestation, provision of iron/multivitamin supplementation and education on healthy nutrition should be part of school health programmes to prevent stunting in schoolchildren in Sohag.