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Open Access Effect of an integrated nutrition program on child morbidity due to respiratory infection and diarrhea in northern Viet Nam

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Infectious disease and poor diet are the two proximal causes of malnutrition in children. During the 1990s, integrated nutrition programs implemented by Save the Children (SC) in Vietnam reduced severe child malnutrition, but it has not been clear if this impact was due primarily to improved diet or reduced disease. The aim of this study was to determine whether a community-based, integrated nutrition program in Vietnam reduced child morbidity due to diarrhea or acute respiratory infections. Children 5 to 25 months old were randomly selected from randomly assigned intervention and comparison communes. Caregivers of children from the intervention and comparison groups (n = 119 per group) were interviewed about their child's morbidity at program baseline and at study months 2, 4, 6, and 12. Multiple logistic regression and general estimating equations (GEE) were used to evaluate the effect of the intervention on the occurrence of any diarrhea and respiratory illness in the preceding two weeks. Respiratory illness, mainly upper respiratory illness, was more common than diarrheal disease at baseline (54% vs. 6%, respectively). During follow-up, children in the intervention communes had approximately half the respiratory illness experienced by those in comparison communes (AOR = 0.5; p = .001). Diarrheal disease was also lower in the intervention group, although differences were not statistically significant. We conclude that SC's integrated nutrition program was associated with reduced upper respiratory illness, perhaps due to improved hygiene practices and/or improved micronutrient intakes.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2002

More about this publication?
  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106

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