Journal Article

Effects of Displacement Resulting from Ethnic/Religious Conflict on the Growth and Body Composition of Fulani Children in Northern Nigeria

R. H. Glew, R. A. Bhanji and D. J. VanderJagt

in Journal of Tropical Pediatrics

Volume 49, issue 5, pages 279-285
Published in print October 2003 | ISSN: 0142-6338
Published online October 2003 | e-ISSN: 1465-3664 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/tropej/49.5.279
Effects of Displacement Resulting from Ethnic/Religious Conflict on the Growth and Body Composition of Fulani Children in Northern Nigeria

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This study, which was carried out in the Jos Plateau in Nigeria, analysed the changes in growth and body composition that occurred among 17 male and 13 female Fulani children (aged 4–13 years) in the 7‐month period which followed their displacement from their homes into a temporary camp due to ethnic/religious violence. The heights and weights of the children, as well as their fat, fat‐free mass, and phase angle were determined 3 weeks before the crisis and 7 months post‐crisis using standard anthropometric methods and bioelectrical impedance analysis. In terms of mean values and relative to growth curves established during the tranquil period immediately preceding the crisis, all but one of the girls grew taller and gained more weight than predicted; two‐thirds of the weight gained by the girls was due to fat. With regard to the male subjects, on average, while they grew taller, they gained 30 per cent less in height than predicted. However, the boys did gain 50 per cent more weight than predicted. Unexpectedly, fat accounted for one‐half or more of the weight gain in both the boys and girls. In general, the boys did less well than the girls in the months following the crisis. The phase angle of all subjects did not decline significantly during the pre‐ and post‐crisis interval. In general, from the nutritional perspective, the Fulani children coped relatively well during the 7‐month period of displacement. The fact that neither the growth nor body composition of the Fulani children deteriorated significantly following the crisis was attributed to the fact that during that period they were receiving adequate and continuous supplies of food. Furthermore, the displacement camp into which the children and their families migrated was located in a secure region of the country and one that was controlled by people whose culture and ethnicity were similar to theirs. Finally, at no time during their 7 months as a displaced population were the children separated from their mothers. In conclusion, this study shows that displacement in general may not necessarily lead to deleterious effects on the growth of children.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Paediatrics

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