Socio-economic predictors of stunting in pre-school children
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.
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.
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).
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.
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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Date published: 2009-06-12
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