Original articles

Socio-economic predictors of stunting in pre-school children

Barbara A Willey, Noel Cameron, Shane A Norris, John M Pettifor, Paula L Griffiths

Abstract


Background
Stunting remains a concern for child public health in many African countries, including South Africa. This study uses data from the Birth to Twenty study, Johannesburg, South Africa, to investigate a range of household-level socio-economic and social support predictors of stunting in children aged less than 30 months.
Design
Logistic regression models were constructed using a conceptual framework to investigate the association between early life measures of socio-economic status and stunting (<-2 standard deviations from the WHO (2006) standard) using data collected in the Birth to Twenty cohort study.
Results
Stunting prevalence was 18.0% (213/1186). In unadjusted analyses numerous SES exposures showed significant associations with stunting, however in final multivariable models decreased likelihood of stunting was seen in children born to mothers who were employed (AOR= 0.60, 95% CI 0.40-0.88), those with father’s who had completed secondary school (AOR= 0.59, 95% CI 0.40-0.85), and those from a home that employed a domestic worker (AOR= 0.40, 95% CI 0.19-0.83), while increased likelihood of stunting was seen in male children (AOR= 1.40, 95% CI 1.03-1.91), and those born low birth weight (AOR= 2.56, 95% CI 1.54-4.26).
Conclusions
Stunting and child malnutrition remain policy priorities for the South African Department of Health, and this study suggests that policies that aim to increase parental education level and reduce unemployment or target additional support to families with low education or unemployed parents may reduce stunting in pre-school aged children in this setting.

Authors' affiliations

Barbara A Willey, Department of Infectious and Tropical Disease, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK

Noel Cameron, Department of Human Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK

Shane A Norris, Mineral Metabolism Research Unit, Department of Paediatrics, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

John M Pettifor, Mineral Metabolism Research Unit, Department of Paediatrics, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Paula L Griffiths, Department of Human Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK

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Keywords

Epidemiology;socio-economic; stunted; child; urban; South Africa

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2009;99(6):450.

Article History

Date submitted: 2008-09-08
Date published: 2009-06-12

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