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Pediatría (Asunción)

On-line version ISSN 1683-9803


IRALA, Pamela; GONZALEZ, Vanessa; SANCHEZ BERNAL, Susana  and  ACOSTA, José. Eating habits and factors associated with nutritional state in infants referred to the Comprehensive Nutritional Food Program at a health center. Pediatr. (Asunción) [online]. 2019, vol.46, n.2, pp.82-89. ISSN 1683-9803.


Children with malnutrition are users of the Comprehensive Nutritional Food Program (PANI). Little is known about their eating habits or sociodemographic conditions.


To evaluate the association of eating habits and sociodemographic variables with the nutritional status of infants aged 6 to 23 months referred to the Comprehensive Nutritional Food Program (PANI).

Materials and Methods:

This was a case-control study of children from 6-23 months seen at the San Lorenzo Maternal and Child Hospital, who were assigned to one of two groups: a) Study Group-SG: 25 children of the PANI with malnutrition (MLN) or at risk of malnutrition (ROM) b) Control Group-CG: 25 healthy children (H), matched by age and sex. We reviewed eating and sociodemographic variables. Χ2, Mann Whitney, T Student and logistic regression were used, p <0.05 was significant.


After study approval by the Ethics Committee, 50 children were evaluated. The median age was 13.9 months, 72% (18/25 per group) were boys in both groups, 46/50 (92%) came from urban areas. In the SG, 20/25 (80%) children had MLN, 5/20 (20%) were at ROM; in CG all had normal nutritional status. There were no significant differences between groups regarding access to water and sanitation, exclusive breastfeeding duration (EBD) or start of solid feeding. The SG had a lower average birth weight than the CG (2724.6 vs. 3430.6 grams; Mann-Whitney, p = 0.001), shorter duration of total EBD (7.5 vs. 10.7 months, Student T p = 0.04), lower maternal education (8.68 vs 10.4 years; Student T p = 0.03) and in lower economic income groups.


Lower birth weight, lower maternal education and shorter breastfeeding duration are associated with worsening of a child's nutritional status, but none of these is predictive.

Keywords : Malnutrition; eating habits; birth weight; breastfeeding; maternal education; sociodemographic factors.

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