Factors Associated with Stunting among Children Aged 6-23 Months in Zambian: Evidence from the 2007 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey

Bupe B. Bwalya, Musonda Lemba, Christopher C. Mapoma, Namuunda Mutombo


The reduction of child stunting requires an understanding of the major factors that are associated with it most especially before and during infancy of the child. This is because, the velocity of linear growth is highest during first months of life for most infants, and especially in less developed countries like Zambia. Children aged 6–23 months are usually vulnerable to stunting because of various factors such as lack of complementary foods containing the necessary nutrients during the early stages of life which leaves them vulnerable to opportunistic infections resulting in poor health outcomes and outmately stuntedness. The aim of this study was to determine factors associated with stunting among children aged 6–23 months in Zambia. The study used the 2007 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey data, which had data on anthropometric measurements for both children (6–23 months) and women of child bearing age (15–49 years); and various bio-demographic and socio-economic variables. Prevalence of stunting among children 6–23 months was very high 44.5 percent p<0.001. The study further revealed that stunting was associated with various factors. Mothers age was also associated child stunting (AOR=1.756, 95%CI: 1.168, 2.641; p=0.007 and AOR=2.568, 95%CI: 1.268, 5.200; p=0.009). Children whose birth weight was small or average (AOR=1.919, 95%CI: 1.350, 2.727; p<0.001 and AOR=1.365, 95%CI: 1.090, 1.710; p=0.007) were 91.9 percent and 36.5 percent more likely to be stunted compared with children whose birth weight was large at birth. Children whose mothers had not taken iron tablets whilst pregnant (AOR=0.600, 95%CI: 0.405, 0.890; p=0.011) more likely to be stunted than those whose mothers had taken the tablets. Mother and child’s IDDS were also significant predictors of stunting (AOR=1.101, 95%CI: 1.021, 1.186; p=0.012 and AOR=1.101, 95%CI: 1.021, 1.186; p<0.001). Children (6–23 months) who were not being breastfed at the time of the survey were more likely to be stunted compared to those who reported being breastfed at the time of the survey (AOR=1.384, 95%CI: 1.067, 1.796; p=0.014). In Zambia, stunting in children aged 6–23 months is high. Stunting is significantly associated with mothers’ age, Childs’ birth weight, mothers taking iron tablets whilst pregnant and breastfeeding. These findings implies that, measures targeted at reducing child stunting should not be taken in isolation but should include a multifaceted approaching looking at both the mother and the children aged 6–23 months at all societal levels in the country as once this window of opportunity is lost then the problem of stunting shall continue to be a public health problem for unforeseeable future.


Children (6–23 Months); Determinants; Stunting; Zambia

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