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The post-partum mid-upper arm circumference of adolescents is reduced by pregnancy in rural Nepal

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The purpose of this study was to examine whether changes in the mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) in pregnancy and early post-partum varied by maternal age. The MUAC of 3359 nulliparous pregnant women ≤25 years of age in rural Nepal was measured in early pregnancy and at 3 months post-delivery of a live-born infant. Regression was used to model the change in MUAC and prevalence of MUAC < 20 cm by maternal age, adjusted for confounders. A total of 5.2% of the pregnant women were under 16 years of age. The prevalence of MUAC measurements <20 cm was 11.3% in early pregnancy and did not differ by maternal age. The prevalence of low MUAC was 17.7% at post-partum, but those <16 years of age had a significantly higher prevalence of low post-partum MUAC [odds ratio: 2.47, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.49, 4.10] compared with women 20–25 years of age, adjusted for maternal literacy, caste, meat consumption in early pregnancy and timing of measurements. All women reduced their MUAC from early pregnancy through post-partum. The adjusted loss of the MUAC among those under 16 years of age was 0.97 cm (95% CI: −1.33, −0.60), compared with 0.40 cm (95% CI: −0.70, −0.10) among women 20–25 years of age. In an energy-restricted environment, girls under 16 years contributed to a half centimetre more loss of MUAC than older women of the same parity. Such a loss of fat, muscle or both may put younger women and their breastfed offspring at greater risk of other adverse health and nutritional outcomes.
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Keywords: Nepal; adolescence; mid-upper arm circumference; nutrition; pregnancy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: The Nepal Nutrition Intervention Project Sarlahi, Kathmandu, Nepal 2: Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA, and

Publication date: 2010-07-01

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