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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

Health Status of Adolescent Girls in Slums of Lucknow

Author(s): J. Singh, J.V. Singh, A.K. Srivastava, Suryakant

Vol. 31, No. 2 (2006-04 - 2006-06)


As we enter the new millennium, the concept of health for a remained distant dream, especially for adolescent girls who had always been neglected group of our society. The rapidly changing physio-psychology, monitory backwardness and burden of uncontrolled population expansion in slums makes them vulnerable to malnutrition, infections and social abuse. Remembering that these girls are future mothers, it is mandatory to provide safe and healthy today to these girls. Health and morbidity survey of these girls will reveal their health and related conditions and will ultimately navigate health promoting bodies to enumerate priorities and accordingly to plan the nature and extent of health services needed for them from the limited available resources in our country. In the present study an attempt was made to explore the health status and extent of health related problems of adolescent girls in slums of Lucknow City.

Material and Methods

The present study was a cross-sectional descriptive study carried on adolescent girls of 10-19 years age group, in four randomly selected slums of Lucknow, over a period of one year from September 98 to October 99. House to house survey was done and requisite 400 girls were drawn from the four randomly selected slums on the proportionate sampling basis. Total 400 girls were interviewed using a pretested schedule and a thorough anthropometric and clinical examination was carried out. Any abnormality detected was considered as defects. Height and weight of all girls were recorded and haemoglobin was estimated by Sahli's method. Detailed information on their menstrual pattern was also obtained.

Observation and Discussion

Out of 400 girls, 49.0% were from 10-13 years, 38.0% were in 14-16 years and 13.0% were from 17-19 years age. The mean age was 13.7 years. Two hundred and thirty three (58.2%) girls had attained menarche and mean age at menarche was 13.3 year (S.D. 1.2). Rao in her study found average age at menarche to be 13.8 years1. Natu also found the age at menarche to be between 13 & 14 years2. The results of two studies are comparable to each other. The mean duration of menstrual flow was 3.7 days (S.D. 1.3). The mean interval between two regular cycles was 29.3 days (S:D. 1.1). Rao found it to be 5.0 days (S.D. 1.2), the mean intermenstrual interval being 29 days1.

It was found that mean height and weight of adolescent girls in all age groups were less than ICMR standards (Table-I). Growth spurt was noted to occur between the age of 13 - 15 years, with increment of 11.1 cm. in height and 8.8 kg. in weight. Koshi et al3 in her study also reported growth spurt between 12-14 years with increment of 11.4 cm. in height and 9.9 kg. in weight.

Table I: Age wise distribution of height and weight of 400 girls examined

in Years
in Kgs
±SD Mean
in cms
10 30 21.3 6.1 123 4.7
11 47 23.1 6.9 125.5 4.11
12 54 24.0 7.3 130.4 S.3
13 65 27.1 9.1 133.1 19.2
14 47 32.1 7.2 139.5 49.5
15 65 35.9 8.7 144.2 8.3
16 40 37.2 8.3 149.1 6.9
17 23 38.4 4.8 150.3 S.1
18 17 38.6 5.1 150.6 4.7
19 12 38.6 5.7 150.1 4.2

The mean haemoglobin level was 10 gm% (S.D. 2.3), 56% girls were anemic of which 10.5% had moderate anemia (haemoglobin level 6.S-8gm%), while 45.5% were mildly anemic (haemoglobin level >8-l1 gm%). These results were comparable to WHO (1998) study in which they reported anemia in 40-60% of cases4.

Deficiency signs of vitamins were found in 28.7% girls, a majority of them (22.2%) show iron deficiency signs and 3% girls with signs of vitamin A deficiency. Koshi et al3 in her study found nutritional disorders in 14.8% students. This wide difference from present study may be because our girls were from slum areas where 11 environmental conditions of health status are quite low.

Various morbid conditions which were found during survey are presented in Table-II. In adequate oral hygiene involving 55.4% of girls. Other morbidities found were pediculosis (39.2%), cold & cough (25.8%) lymphadenopathy (22.2%), scabies (16.2%), inflamed tonsils (7.8%) and ear discharge(7%) of girls. Menon found 87.4% children defective among school entrants in Kerala. The result of present study were comparable to that of Menon5. The average number of defects per defective girl were found to be 4-6.

Table II: Showing Morbidity pattern among girls examined

Morbidity Morbidities * N=400
No. %
Ear, Nose, Throat:
Enlarged/Inflamed Tonsil 31 7.8
Defective speech 4 1
Defective hearing 1 0.3
Ear discharge 128 7
Ear ache 5 1.3
Defective vision 18 4.5
Trachoma 1 0.3
Squint 5 1.3
Chalazion 2 0.5
Pediculosis 157 39.2
Scabies 65 16.2
Seborrhoea scalp 17 4.2
Leucoderma 1 0.3
Furunculosis 4 1
Lymphadenopathy: 89 22.2
Hepatomegly 26 6.5
Diarrhoeal disease 24 6
Respiratory disease
Cold & Cough 103 25.8
Dyspmea 8 2
RHD 4 1
Inadequate oral hygiene 222 55.6
Fever 30 7.5
* Multiple


In the present study, majority of girls were found to be anaemic and suffered from one or more illness. Majority of girls lag far behind the standard weight and height revealing the extent of malnutrition in these girls. As many studies in affluent Indian children have shown comparable height and weight to I.C.M.R. standards, so it can be suggested that Indians have comparable genetic potential to grow, but sub-optimal environmental factors like diet, morbidity burden, socioeconomic status etc. have resulted in poor growth of Indian girls. It is true for girls in slum areas of Lucknow and suboptimal environmental factors are the main culprit for their poor growth. So it is the need of hour to help them by eliminating these negative environmental factors, for the upliftment of their nutritional status so as a formulate healthy mother of new millennium.


  1. Rao A R. A Study on menstruation in adolescents Jour. Indian Journal of Medical Association 1963; 40:15-19.
  2. Natu M. Study of Menstrual Pattern of College girls Poona. Indian Journal of Public Health 1966, 10:75-77.
  3. Koshi E. A study of the health of school girls studying from class VI to class X, in urban area at Alambagh, Lucknow, Thesis for Doctor of Medicine (Social & Preventive Medicine) King George's Medical College, Lucknow 1970.
  4. WHO. Strategies for adolescent health & development, South East Asia Region, New Delhi, 1998.
  5. Menon A V. Study of the Health Status of Primary school children. M.D. Thesis in Social & Preventive Medicine, Lucknow University, 1966.
  6. Sinha N, Srivastava M, Prajan E.A research - cum action project on the girl child, Patna : Bihar Centre for Women's Department, 1999.
  7. Novak E R, Jones, G S. and Jones G S. and Jones H W. Text book of Gynaecology 7th eddition. The Williams & Williams Company: Baltimore, 1965.

Deptt. of Social & Preventive Medicine,
K.G's Medical College, Lucknow.
Received: 8.05.2000

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