The health and nutrition of indigenous children in Chile (Mapuche)
The aim of this study was to conduct a review of the health and nutritional status of Chilean indigenous children, specifically Mapuche children, as published in the literature and specific population-based studies. The searches were conducted in PubMed and LILACS in the last 15 years. From 2006 to 2015, the poverty rate was higher in the indigenous population, with a decrease in the gap from 16% in 2006 to 7.7% in 2015 (p < 0.001). In the first decade of this century, infant mortality in indigenous children was 17.1/1,000 live births, while in non-indigenous children it was 8.8/1,000, and the gap was maintained in the five-year follow-up (p < 0.001). Newborns with birthweight < 2,500g in the year 2000 did not reach 6% (5.6% in non-indigenous and 5.2% in indigenous children). Low height at first school enrollment was 8.4% in indigenous schoolchildren and 3.1% in non-indigenous children, decreasing to 3.7% in indigenous children and 2.6% in non-indigenous children in 2004, while obesity increased more in indigenous children, reaching 24.2% in indigenous and 25.3% in non-indigenous children (p < 0.001). Menarche appeared four months later on average in indigenous girls (12.7 years), and body mass index, waist circumference, and fat mass were significantly greater in indigenous girls at the time of thelarche, as was the overweight rate (55%, vs. 42% in non-indigenous). Mapuche children show favorable health and nutritional status compared to indigenous children elsewhere in Latin America, but there is still an adverse gap compared to non-indigenous Chilean children. This inequality affecting indigenous Chilean children should be acknowledged and corrected.