Thompson, Debbie S; Lyew-Ayee, P; Younger-Coleman, N; Greene, LG; Boyne, Michael S; Forrester, Terrence E
Author Affiliation, Ana.
Socioeconomic factors associated with severe acute malnutrition in Jamaica
PLoS ONE 201
Date of Publication
ObjectivesSevere acute malnutrition (SAM) is an important risk factor for illness and death globally, contributing to more than half of deaths in children worldwide. We hypothesized that SAM is positively correlated to poverty, low educational attainment, major crime and higher mean soil concentrations of lead, cadmium and arsenic.MethodsWe reviewed admission records of infants admitted with a diagnosis of SAM over 14 years (2000–2013) in Jamaica. Poverty index, educational attainment, major crime and environmental heavy metal exposure were represented in a Geographic Information System (GIS). Cases of SAM were grouped by community and the number of cases per community/year correlated to socioeconomic variables and geochemistry data for the relevant year.Results375 cases of SAM were mapped across 204 urban and rural communities in Jamaica. The mean age at admission was 9 months (range 1–45 months) and 57% were male. SAM had a positive correlation with major crime (r = 0.53; P < 0.001), but not with educational attainment or the poverty index. For every one unit increase in the number of crimes reported, the rate of occurrence of SAM cases increased by 1.01% [Incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 1.01 (95% CI = 1.006–1.014); P P<0.001]. The geochemistry data yielded no correlation between levels of heavy metals and the prevalence of malnutrition.ConclusionMajor crime has an independent positive association with severe acute malnutrition in Jamaican infants. This could suggest that SAM and major crime might have similar sociological origins or that criminality at the community level may be indicative of reduced income opportunities with the attendant increase in poor nutrition in the home.....