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Child malnutrition in Cameroon: Does legitimacy of birth matter?

Jacques Emina Be-Ofuriyua, African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)

Children born out-of-union are generally assumed to have poorer development outcomes because of their stigmatization or marginalization in some societies. Using data from the 1998 Cameroon Demographic and Health Survey, this research examines relationship between legitimacy of birth and children nutritional status in Cameroon. Children born out-of-wedlock experienced a low risk of malnourishment (26%) about 10 percents points lower than legitimate children (36%). However, introducing controls for mother and household’s characteristics, it appears that legitimacy of birth is a confounding factor which itself has little influence on children nutritional status in Cameroon. In fact the likelihood of out-of-wedlock childbearing is higher among educated and/or urban women whose children are less exposed to malnourishment. In addition, out-of-wedlock childbearing is very rare in Adamawa/North/ Extreme-North region where prevalence of malnutrition is the highest of the country. There is no support for the marginalization of out-of-wedlock children according to their nutritional status in Cameroon.

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Presented in Poster Session 4