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Public health

Chronic malnutrition falls in northern Brazil

Stunted growth in children under 5 due to food insecurity and a lack of sanitation or clean water fell in northern Brazil between 2008 and 2017. As a result of the great distances between cities, transport problems, and a shortage of educational material, prevalence of the issue was 14.8% in the region—double the national average. By analyzing data from the Brazilian Ministry of Health’s Food and Nutrition Surveillance System (SISVAN), scientists from the School of Public Health at the University of São Paulo (FSP-USP) observed a reduction in chronic stunting among children in the North, from 23.3% in 2008 to 18.6% in 2017, reflecting greater access to health services and basic sanitation. In absolute numbers, however, due to improved record keeping, the number of children below the recommended height doubled, from 51,595 to 116,169 in the same period. The states of Acre, Tocantins, and Pará showed the greatest reductions in chronic malnutrition, of 7.19%, 6.22%, and 4.86% respectively, while levels in the other four northern states remained stable (Journal of Pediatrics, August 31).