AUA MPH Alumna and lead author Lilit Hovhannisyan, MD, MPH (2011) and her coauthors Anahit Demirchyan, MD, MPH (1999), Senior Research Specialist with the AUA School of Public Health and Varduhi Petrosyan, Associate Professor and Associate Dean of the School, reported in their article Estimated Prevalence and Predictors of Undernutrition among Children Aged 5-17 Months in Yerevan, Armenia that about one-fifth (20.5%) of the 5-17 month-old children in Yerevan were undernourished. A family’s lower socio-economic status, a child’s small stature at birth, a shorter duration of predominant breastfeeding, and inadequate diversity of complementary feeding were found to be independent predictors of child undernutrition in Yerevan. These findings were published on May 15, 2013 in the advance online access (“FirstView”) of the Public Health Nutrition, a prestigious internationally ranked peer-reviewed journal (see http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=8918285).
As the Dean of the AUA School of Public Health Robert Bagramian notes, “we developed this manuscript from the results of an MPH thesis project that emerged from UNICEF and the Ministry of Health suggestions that our students examine pressing issues such as undernutrition and anemia in children. Lilit framed and implemented the research under Dr. Demirchyan’s and Dr. Petrosyan’s close guidance.”
The findings are important not only for Armenia but other countries with similar background. The study concluded that the prevalence of child undernutrition in Yerevan is worrisome, yet modifiable. Social reforms to reduce poverty and inequities in food availability and consumption, and promotion of appropriate breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices could be powerful tools for reducing child undernutrition in Yerevan, Armenia, and other societies with similar public health concerns.
The Associate Editor of Public Health Nutrition commented that this paper makes an important contribution to the literature. Similarly, one of the anonymous reviewers wrote, “This is a manuscript with many strengths, including the significant topic, the valuable dataset, the well-crafted organization of information, the well-justified selection of the child’s age for the focus of investigation, and the case-control approach to the study. Best wishes as you go forward in making a difference for the children in Armenia”.
The AUA School of Public Health works actively to improve the health of the populace and health services in Armenia and the region through interdisciplinary education and development of public health professionals and others to be leaders in public health, health services research and evaluation, and health care delivery and management.