Household market participation and stunting in preschool children in Lilongwe, Malawi

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Background: Stunting among Malawian preschool children continues to be a concern.

Method: A cross-sectional survey of 251 semi-urban households, who participated in a community-supported preschool programme, was conducted.

Results: Of the 433 participating two- to five-year-old children, 34.4% had stunting. Children from families who grow tobacco were less likely than other children to have stunting (27.0% vs. 37.3%, p-value = 0.04). In contrast, children from families who grow a local type of cowpea (khobwe) had a higher rate of stunting than other children (46.8% vs. 32.9%, p-value = 0.01).

Conclusion: The study suggests that the increased income associated with household participation in the growing of globally marketable cash crops, as compared to the growing of local crops, may lead to increased nutritional benefits for children.

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Copyright © 2011, South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition.