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Using weight-for-age for predicting wasted children in Cameroon
Authors: Georges Nguefack-Tsague, Agatha Tanya Nguti Kien, Charles Ntungwen Fokunang
Source: Pan African Medical Journal, 14: 96. doi: 10.11604/pamj.2013.14.96.1914
Topic(s): Child health
Country: Africa
Published: NOV 2013
Abstract: Introduction: The equipment for taking body weights (scales) are more frequently used in Cameroon health centres than measuring boards for heights. Even when the later exist there are some difficulties inherent in their qualities; thus the height measurement is not always available or accurate. Our objective for this study was to construct statistical models for predicting wasting from weight-for-age. Methods: 3742 children aged 0 to 59 months were enrolled in a cross-sectional household survey (2004 Cameroon Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS)) covering the entire Cameroon national territory. Results: There were highly significant association between underweight and wasting. For all discriminant statistical methods used, the test error rates (using an independent testing sample) were less than 5%; the Area Under Curve (AUC) using the Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) was 0.86. Conclusion: The study showed that weight-for-age can be used for accurately classifying a child whose wasting status is unknown. The result is useful in Cameroon as too often the height measurements may not be feasible, thus the need for estimating wasted children. This study provides baseline information that will help to design a preliminary pivotal study on an immediate nutrition intervention for acute undernutrition. Its complications that could lead to morbidity and mortality can be greatly reduced or set up a management control strategy that will go a long way in reducing the cost of health care in Cameroon.