Background: child growth is recognised internationally as the best global indicator of physical well-being in children. This study identifies the main factors associated with trajectory of child’s growth among poor children in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, with specific focus on the effects of maternal education and maternal mental health.
Materials and method: data from two consecutive rounds of the Young Lives cohort study were individually linked to obtain continuous measures of child growth between the ages of 1 and 5: a) increase in child’s height (in centimetres) and b) increase in child’s weight (in kilograms). Each measure was analysed using linear regression to estimate the effects of maternal education, maternal mental health and other factors on child’s growth.
Results: simple regression found increases in height and weight to be positively associated with maternal education and maternal mental health. Associations were also observed with child’s gender, maternal height, weight and caste, paternal education, household wealth index and debt, type of setting (urban versus rural) and region (agro-climatic). Multiple regressions revealed increases in child’s height and weight to be independently associated with child’s gender, maternal height and weight, household wealth index and region but not with maternal education and maternal mental health.
Conclusion: this study illustrates the pivotal role of a prospective design in identifying key factors affecting increases in child’s height and weight. Neither key factors of prior interest examined - maternal education or maternal mental health - was found to be associated with child growth independent of other factors identified.
Young Lives Student Paper: submitted in part fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of MSc, University of Oxford. 76 pp.