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McDonald, Christine M.; Olofin, Ibironke; Flaxman, Seth; Fawzi, Wafaie W.; Spiegelman, Donna; Caulfield, Laura E.; Black, Robert E.; Ezzati, Majid; Danaei, Goodarz, for the Nutrition Impact Model Study (Anthropometry Cohort Pooling) [; & Linda S. Adair, Member, et al. (2013). The Effect of Multiple Anthropometric Deficits on Child Mortality: Meta-Analysis of Individual Data in 10 Prospective Studies from Developing Countries. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 97(4), 896-901.


BACKGROUND: Child stunting, wasting, and underweight have been individually associated with increased mortality. However, there has not been an analysis of the mortality risk associated with multiple anthropometric deficits.
OBJECTIVE: The objective was to quantify the association between combinations of stunting, wasting, and underweight and mortality among children <5 y of age.
DESIGN: We analyzed data from 10 cohort studies or randomized trials in low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America with 53,767 participants and 1306 deaths. Height-for-age, weight-for-height, and weight-for-age were calculated by using the 2006 WHO growth standards, and children were classified into 7 mutually exclusive combinations: no deficits; stunted only; wasted only; underweight only; stunted and underweight but not wasted; wasted and underweight but not stunted; and stunted, wasted, and underweight (deficit defined as < -2 z scores). We calculated study-specific mortality HRs using Cox proportional hazards models and used a random-effects model to pool HRs across studies.
RESULTS: The risk of all-cause mortality was elevated among children with 1, 2, and 3 anthropometric deficits. In comparison with children with no deficits, the mortality HRs were 3.4 (95% CI: 2.6, 4.3) among children who were stunted and underweight but not wasted; 4.7 (95% CI: 3.1, 7.1) in those who were wasted and underweight but not stunted; and 12.3 (95% CI: 7.7, 19.6) in those who were stunted, wasted, and underweight.
CONCLUSION: Children with multiple deficits are at a heightened risk of mortality and may benefit most from nutrition and other child survival interventions.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition


McDonald, Christine M.
Olofin, Ibironke
Flaxman, Seth
Fawzi, Wafaie W.
Spiegelman, Donna
Caulfield, Laura E.
Black, Robert E.
Ezzati, Majid
Danaei, Goodarz, for the Nutrition Impact Model Study (Anthropometry Cohort Pooling) [
Linda S. Adair, Member