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Introduction A key Sustainable Development Goal target is to eliminate all forms of malnutrition. Existing evidence suggests children with disabilities are at greater risks of malnutrition, exclusion from nutrition programmes and mortality from severe acute malnutrition than children without disabilities. However, there is limited evidence on the nutritional outcomes of children with disabilities in large-scale global health surveys. Methods We analysed Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey data from 30 low and middle-income countries to compare nutritional outcomes for children aged 2–4 years with and without disabilities. We estimated the adjusted prevalence ratios for stunting, wasting and underweight comparing children with and without disabilities by country and sex, using quasi-Poisson models with robust SEs. We accounted for the complex survey design, wealth quintile, location and age in the analyses. We meta-analysed these results to create an overall estimate for each of these outcomes. Results Our analyses included 229 621 children aged 2–4 across 30 countries, including 15 071 children with disabilities (6.6%). Overall, children with disabilities were more likely to be stunted (adjusted risk ratio (aRR) 1.16, 95% CI 1.11 to 1.20), wasted (aRR 1.28, 95% CI 1.18 to 1.39) and underweight (aRR 1.33, 95% CI 1.17, 1.51) than children without disabilities. These patterns were observed in both girls and boys with disabilities, compared with those without. Conclusion Children with disabilities are significantly more likely to experience all forms of malnutrition, making it critical to accelerate efforts to improve disability inclusion within nutrition programmes. Ending all forms of malnutrition will not be achievable without a focus on disability.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health

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