Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Shannon Self-Brown, Ph.D

Second Advisor

Carol Thurman, Ph.D



BACKGROUND: Child malnutrition contributes to more than 33% of child deaths and is directly related to the productivity and success of the adult population. To combat these stark figures, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals set out to halve levels of malnutrition by 2015. While recent U.N. reports indicate that many countries are on track to reach the MDGs, there may be sub-populations within these countries that do not fair as well. The purpose of this study is to provide a comparative analysis of the nutritional status of children younger than five years of age in the Dominican Republic and the Dominican Batey sub-population. This comparison will be based on stunting levels, reportedly the best indicator of child malnutrition, as it indicates sustained levels of nutritional deficiency.

METHODS: Cross-sectional data from the 2007 Dominican Republic Standard and Special Demographic Health Surveys involving 11,149 Dominican children and 919 children from Dominican Bateyes, respectively, were used. Version 20 of the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) was used to conduct descriptive statistics, analysis of variance tests, and independent samples T-test using selected socio-demographic variables.

RESULTS: A significant difference in height-for-age (stunting) was identified between Bateyes (M= -83.52, SD =134.783) and the general population (M = -51.88, SD = 134.576; t (10,032) = -6.301, p = .00, two-tailed). Study findings indicate that overall, children under five years of age who reside in Dominican Bateyes are more malnourished than their Dominican counterparts (15.9% in Bateyes as opposed to 10.8% in the general population). Furthermore, Batey children are .34 times more moderately stunted, and one time more severely stunted, than children who reside in other areas of the Dominican Republic.

CONCLUSION: While the Dominican Republic is on track to meet MDG Goal 1, a significant portion of the population does not fair as well. The substantial underlying differences that exist between the Dominican the Batey sub-population have led to higher rates of stunting and require further analysis. The findings of this study should guide the design of appropriate interventions aimed at reduction of malnutrition within Batey communities.

KEY WORDS: stunting, malnutrition, children, Dominican Republic, Batey, Millennium Development Goals