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Rural and Urban Correlates of Stunting Among Under-Five Children in Sierra Leone: A 2019 Nationwide Cross-Sectional Survey
Authors: Quraish Sserwanja, Kassim Kamara, Linet M. Mutisya, Milton W. Musaba, and Shirin Ziaei
Source: Nutrition and Metabolic Insights, DOI:
Topic(s): Child health
Child height
Children under five
Rural-urban differentials
Country: Africa
  Sierra Leone
Published: SEP 2021
Abstract: Background: Undernutrition accounts for at least 50% of the annual global under-five mortality burden. Although disparities in the childhood stunting between urban and rural areas in Sierra Leone have been documented, information on factors associated with these differences is lacking. We aimed to determine rural-urban correlates of stunting among children under the age of 5 in Sierra Leone. Methods: We analyzed data from 2019 Sierra Leone demographic and health survey (SLDHS) focusing on under-five children. We conducted multivariable logistic regression to examine rural-urban factors associated with childhood stunting. Results: Prevalence of stunting was 31.6% (95% CI 29.8-33.2) in rural areas and 24.0% (95% CI 21.6-26.1) in urban areas. Within the rural areas, children of stunted mothers (aOR = 2.37; 95% CI 1.07-5.24, P < .05), younger mothers aged 15 to 19 years (aOR = 2.08; 95% CI 1.17-3.69, P < .05), uneducated mothers (aOR = 1.87; 95% CI 1.28-2.71, P < .01), as well as older children (24-59 months) (aOR = 1.83; 95% CI 1.48-2.27, P < .001), and boys (aOR = 1.37; 95% CI 1.12-1.66, P < .01) were more likely to be stunted compared to those of non-stunted, older, post-primary education mothers and those who were less than 24 months and girls respectively. While urban children whose fathers had lower education (aOR = 1.94; 95% CI 1.10-3.42, P < .05), whose mothers were more parous (para 2-4) (aOR = 1.74; 95% CI 1.03-2.95, P < .05), and boys (aOR = 1.48; 95% CI 1.06-2.08, P < .05) were more likely to be stunted compared to their counterparts with fathers that had tertiary education, mothers of low parity and girls, respectively. Conclusions: Stunting is more prevalent in the rural areas compared to the urban areas. Sex of the child was the only significant factor in both rural and urban areas. Our study findings suggest that programs designed to reduce stunting should aim for integrated yet context specific interventions in rural and urban areas.