Prevalence of Acute Undernutrition Among Women (MUAC)
English: % of women of reproductive age with a MUAC < 210mm
French: % de femmes en âge de procréer avec un PB < 210mm
Portuguese: % de mulheres em idade reprodutiva com um PB (perímetro braquial) < 210mm
Czech: % žen v reproduktivním věku s obvodem horní části paže < 210mm
What is its purpose?
The indicator measures the prevalence of women of reproductive age with mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) below 210mm (sign of acute malnutrition).
How to Collect and Analyse the Required Data
Data can be collected either as a part of a SMART survey or in a separate survey collecting MUAC-only data. The second option is much faster and is used when a lack of time or funding does not allow the conducting of a full-scale SMART survey.
1) Currently there is no internationally agreed cut-off for maternal MUAC. If you work in a country using other than 210mm standard, report the results according to the local as well as the 210mm standard.
2) Your sample should include also pregnant and lactating women. If your capacity allows, consider using stratified random sampling focusing on three main groups: pregnant women, lactating women and not pregnant or lactating women. For more information on MUAC cut-off for pregnant women, please read FANTA's publication below.
3) In many countries, acute undernutrition is prone to significant seasonal differences. Therefore, if you need to compare your baseline and endline data to assess the result of your work, ensure that the data is collected at the same time of a year, otherwise you will receive two sets of data which say very little about the change your project has (not) achieved.
4) Since the differences in the prevalence of acute malnutrition are often very small (e.g. from 7% to 5%), MUAC-based surveys need to use a very small margin of error (2-3%), using a large sample of women. With a larger team of measurers, MUAC data for a survey can be collected within 6 - 8 working days (training incl. piloting can be done in 1-2 days). To ensure maximum quality, use the guidance recommended below; if required, contract an in-country or headquarters-based advisor to design methodology, train your team and supervise the survey quality.
Access Additional Guidance
- ACF (2014) Rapid SMART Surveys Guidelines (.pdf)
- ACF (2014) Guide: Enquêtes nutritionnelles SMART rapides (.pdf)
- PIN (2015) Practical Checklist for Conducting Nutrition Surveys (.pdf)
- SMART methodology
- FANTA (2016) Determining a Global MUAC to Assess Malnutrition in Pregnant Women (.pdf)
- Nutrition Cluster Indicators Registry (incl. thresholds)