To determine the levels and correlates of maternal nutritional status.
Cross-sectional maternal weight, height, and mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) data were correlated with sociodemographic data.
Slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Weight, height and MUAC were collected from a representative sample of 2417 nonpregnant mothers. Socioeconomic data such as age, education, religion and household economic status was collected from 2048 mothers; data on reproductive experiences such as number of pregnancies and number of children born alive now dead was available from 1314 mothers; and both sets of data from 1185 mothers.
Using weight, height, MUAC and body mass index (BMI) data, the levels of maternal nutritional status were estimated. Bivariate and multivariate relationships of maternal nutritional status with socioeconomic and reproductive experiences variables were examined.
Mothers' mean weight, height, MUAC and BMI were 41.8 kg, 148.8 cm, 232.5 mm, and 18.8 respectively. In multivariate regression analyses, mothers' weight, BMI and MUAC were significantly positively correlated with mothers' years of schooling (P < 0.05) and household economic status (P < 0.01). Mothers' height was significantly positively correlated with years of schooling (P < 0.05), but not with household economic status. Maternal height and weight were significantly negatively correlated with number of child deaths (P < 0.05).
The findings suggest a possible inter-generational effect; thus, improvement of the nutritional status of girls of this generation would improve child survival in the next generation. This, however, will require complex and long-term planning. As an interim measure, shorter mothers should be targeted for appropriate antenatal and obstetric services.