The post-partum mid-upper arm circumference of adolescents is reduced by pregnancy in rural Nepal

Joanne Katz, Subarna K. Khatry, Steven C. LeClerq, Keith P. West, Parul Christian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to examine whether changes in the mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) in pregnancy and early post-partum varied by maternal age. The MUAC of 3359 nulliparous pregnant women ≤25 years of age in rural Nepal was measured in early pregnancy and at 3 months post-delivery of a live-born infant. Regression was used to model the change in MUAC and prevalence of MUAC < 20 cm by maternal age, adjusted for confounders. A total of 5.2% of the pregnant women were under 16 years of age. The prevalence of MUAC measurements <20 cm was 11.3% in early pregnancy and did not differ by maternal age. The prevalence of low MUAC was 17.7% at post-partum, but those <16 years of age had a significantly higher prevalence of low post-partum MUAC [odds ratio: 2.47, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.49, 4.10] compared with women 20-25 years of age, adjusted for maternal literacy, caste, meat consumption in early pregnancy and timing of measurements. All women reduced their MUAC from early pregnancy through post-partum. The adjusted loss of the MUAC among those under 16 years of age was 0.97 cm (95% CI: -1.33, -0.60), compared with 0.40 cm (95% CI: -0.70, -0.10) among women 20-25 years of age. In an energy-restricted environment, girls under 16 years contributed to a half centimetre more loss of MUAC than older women of the same parity. Such a loss of fat, muscle or both may put younger women and their breastfed offspring at greater risk of other adverse health and nutritional outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-295
Number of pages9
JournalMaternal and Child Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Adolescence
  • Mid-upper arm circumference
  • Nepal
  • Nutrition
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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