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May 1987

Malnutrition in the First Two Years of LifeThe Contribution of Low Birth Weight to Population Estimates in the United States

Am J Dis Child. 1987;141(5):531-534. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1987.04460050073034

• To examine the contribution of low birth weight (LBW) to prevalence estimates of undernutrition as measured by low length-for-age (L/A), we analyzed data on 374554 children under 24 months old from the Centers for Disease Control Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System. Overall, 9.2% of white, 13.4% of black, and 9.2% of Hispanic children weighed less than 2500 g at birth. The mean prevalence of low L/A during the first two years of life was 10.4%, 12.0%, and 11.7% for whites, blacks, and Hispanics, respectively; the mean proportion of L/A less than the fifth percentile attributable to LBW was 28.9%, 27.6%, and 21.3%. Our results demonstrate the need to consider the LBW prevalence in population estimates of malnutrition since 20% to 40% of the prevalence of low L/A in the first two years of life can be attributable to LBW.

(AJDC 1987;141:531-534)