Effects of socio-demographic and nutritional status on Peak Expiratory Flow Rates of rural school children in Ilesa, Nigeria
Background: The Peak Expiratory Flow Rate (PEFR) measured using portable peak flow metres (PFM) is a simple, cheap, readily available and reproducible measure of lung functions, particularly in resource-poor settings.
Objective: To determine the effects of socio-demographic and nutritional factors on the PEFR of school children in rural areas of Ilesa, Nigeria.
Methods: Multi-stage sampling technique was used to select children from middle schools in rural Ilesa. Their socio-demographics, housing conditions and household cooking fuel used were obtained. Anthropometric parameters and nutritional statuses of the children were determined using the WHO reference growth chart. PEFR was measured using the mini Wright PFM. The factors influencing their PEFR were determined.
Results: A total of 250 school children aged 8 to 16 years with male-to-female ratio of 0.9:1 were studied. The mean (SD) age was 12.5 (1.5) years. Over 80.0% used unclean fuel for household cooking and one-half lived in overcrowded homes. The prevalence of stunting, underweight and overweight was 22.8%, 30.8% and 3.2% respectively. The mean ± SD PEFR was 248 ± 58.6 L/min which correlated positively with the weight, height, Body Mass Index and Body Surface Area. The mean PEFR was significantly lower among children exposed to unclean fuels (245.4 ± 59.7L/min vs. 292.0 ± 59.4L/min; p = 0.02), stunted males (220.6 ± 44.9L/min vs. 264.1 ± 62.9L/min; p = 0.009) and underweight females (213.2 ± 37.8L/min vs. 247.5 ± 62.6L/min; p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Undernutrition and exposure to noxious substances from unclean household cooking fuels adversely affected the PEFR of rural school children. Early detection and prompt treatment of undernutrition and avoidance of noxious substances from unclean fuels may ensure better lung health among the children in rural areas.
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