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NUTRITION CORNER: The State of Nutrition of Ilocos Region, 0-5 years old – in focus

By Emmarose C. Pineda EMMAROSE C. PINEDA, Nutrition Officer I

A regional dissemination forum to present the results of the 2011 updating of nutritional status of Filipino children specifically the Ilocos Region was conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute-Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) in cooperation with the National Nutrition Council, Regional Office I on September 19, 2012 at the Hotel de Salcedo, Vigan City.

The forum was led by Ms. Adrienne Constantino and party of FNRI-DOST. It was well participated by the delegates from various sectors such as the Regional Line Agencies – NSO, DepEd, CHED, DSWD, PIA, DOST and NNC, the academe -University of Northern Philippines, Vigan City, Mariano Marcos State University, Batac City, Ilocos Sur Polytechnic State College, Sta Maria, Ilocos Sur and PSU, Lingayen, Pangasinan including delegates from the local government units of Ilocos Norte, La Union, San Fernando City, and Candon City.

Based on the presentations made, the results showed the following:  the prevalence rate of underweight among the 0-5 year- old children is at 19.8% which is slightly lower than the national average of 20.2%; the prevalence of stunted or “pagkabansot” is at 29% which is lower than the national average of 33.6%; the prevalence of wasted (“sobrang pagkapayat”) is at 9.9 % which is higher than the national average of 7.3%  and the prevalence of overweight is at 6.3% which is slightly higher than the national average.

Some factors affecting the nutritional status of the 0-5 year- old age groups like low birthweight and nutritional status of Filipino mothers were also presented. Birthweight is a known indicator of a multifaceted public health problem that includes long-term maternal malnutrition, ill health, hard work, and poor health care in pregnancy. The 2011 updating showed that 15.9 % or 2 in every 10 children of 0-47 months old were born with low birth weight.  In Region I, the percentage of children with low birthweight is only at 12.6 % lower than the national average. Infants with low birthweight are approximately 20 times more likely to die than the heavier infant according to the WHO, 2010.

The updating survey results also showed that 25.0% or 1 in every 4 pregnant women is nutritionally at-risk. The poor health of pregnant women makes them at risk to deliver low birthweight babies and other negative pregnancy outcomes like stillbirths and miscarriages. Around 35.7% or 3 out of 10 pregnant women were found to be below 20 years of age and are nutritionally at-risk based on the weight for height like teenage pregnancies, and 2 out of 10 pregnant women were found to be lesser than or equal to 20 years of age and are nutritionally at-risk based on the weight for height. Nutritionally at-risk pregnant women registered at 28.8% which is higher than the national average.

On the other hand, the nutritional status of lactating mothers with children 0-5 years old were reflected as 1 in every 10 lactating mothers were found to be  underweight and  2 in every 10 lactating mothers were overweight.  The prevalence of underweight lactating mothers is  12.9% which is slightly higher than the national average  of 11.9% but lower than Bicol Region with 16.6 % which is the highest nationwide. Twenty percent (20.0%) of lactating mothers are overweight, higher than the national average of 17.7% but slightly lower than of CAR with 28.7% highest prevalence nationwide.

Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) Practices particularly on the practice of exclusive breastfeeding is 52.2% higher than that of the national average of 48.9%.  Continued breastfeeding practices among 1 year old children showed 52.2 % and 29.9 % for children aged 2 years old which are both higher than the national average of 51.7% and 28.9% respectively. The regional picture on government participation was high especially on  Expanded Immunization Programs  like BCG, DPT, OPV, Hepa B Vaccine, OPT, Vitamin A Program, and Deworming  except on Growth Monitoring and Orally Fit Child which is lower than the national results.

The results of the survey posted a challenge to local program planners and implementers in the region. A plan of action was made through a workshop by the participants to identify corresponding interventions to address the prevailing problems presented.#

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