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Jornal de Pediatria

Print version ISSN 0021-7557On-line version ISSN 1678-4782


CESAR, Juraci A. et al. Basic indicators of child health in an urban area in southern Brazil: estimating prevalence rates and evaluating differentials. J. Pediatr. (Rio J.) [online]. 2006, vol.82, n.6, pp.437-444. ISSN 0021-7557.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate and compare basic indicators of the health of children under 5 years old in the urban area of Rio Grande, RS, Brazil, for 1995 and 2004. METHODS: Two cross-sectional population studies were carried out in the city. Interviewers were previously trained and applied standardized questionnaires during visits to families with children under 5 years old. The following variables were investigated: family income, maternal education, type of construction of home (wooden/masonry etc.), availability of toilet, running water, sewage system and domestic appliances. Data collected on the children themselves included number of antenatal consultations and age at first antenatal, type of delivery and medical care received during delivery, breastfeeding and dietary patterns, morbidity and health services utilization. Children were weighed and measured for height/length. Comparisons of frequencies between the two datasets were made using the chi-square test. RESULTS: In 1995, 395 children were studied and in 2004 there were 384. During the intervening period improvements had taken place in type of construction, number of homes with flush toilet, the availability of running water and in breastfeeding pattern and duration. The frequency of diarrhea reduced, while rates of basic vaccination coverage, growth monitoring, patients in possession of their own medical cards and reporting of birth weights all increased. There was a deterioration in families' purchasing power and in the mean number of antenatal consultations. The prevalence of childhood obesity increased by 92%, while the incidence of malnutrition remained practically unchanged. CONCLUSIONS: Comparing health indicators from the two periods revealed that, in addition to improvements in the majority of the indicators assessed, there had been a substantial increase in the prevalence of childhood obesity.

Keywords : Child; child health; epidemiology; health indicators; Brazil; cross-sectional studies; obesity.

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