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Assessing associational strength of 23 correlates of child anthropometric failure: An econometric analysis of the 2016 National family health survey, India
Authors: Rockli Kim, Sunil Rajpal, William Joe, Daniel J. Corsi, Rajan Sankar, Alok Kumar, and S.V. Subramanian
Source: Social Science and Medicine, Online first; DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2019.112374
Topic(s): Child health
Country: Asia
Published: JUN 2019
Abstract: Despite the broad consensus that investments in nutrition-sensitive programmes are required to reduce child undernutrition, in practice empirical studies and interventions tend to focus on few nutrition-specific risk factors in isolation. The 2016 National Family Health Survey provides the first opportunity in more than a decade to conduct an up-to-date comprehensive evaluation of the relative importance of various maternal and child health and nutrition (MCHN) factors in respect to child anthropometric failures in India. The primary analysis included 140,444 children aged 6–59 months with complete data on 20 MCHN factors, and the secondary analysis included a subset of 25,603 children with additional paternal data. Outcome variables were stunting, underweight and wasting. We conducted logistic regression models to first evaluate each risk factor separately in age- and sex-adjusted models, and then jointly in a mutually adjusted model. For all anthropometric failures, indicators of past and present socioeconomic conditions showed the most robust associations. The strongest correlates for stunting were short maternal stature (OR: 4.39; 95%CI: 4.00, 4.81), lack of maternal education (OR: 1.74; 95%CI: 1.60, 1.89), low maternal BMI (OR: 1.64; 95%CI: 1.54, 1.75), poor household wealth (OR: 1.25; 95%CI: 1.15, 1.35) and poor household air quality (OR: 1.22; 95%CI: 1.16, 1.29). Weaker associations were found for other variables, including dietary diversity, vitamin A supplementation and breastfeeding initiation. Paternal factors were also important predictors of anthropometric failures, but to a lesser degree than maternal factors. The results remained consistent when stratified by children's age (6–23 vs 24–59 months) and sex (girls vs boys), and when low birth weight was additionally considered. Our findings indicate the limitation of nutrition-specific interventions. Breaking multi-generational poverty and improving environmental factors are promising investments to prevent anthropometric failures in early childhood. Keywords India; Undernutrition; Anthropometric failures; Stunting; Underweight; Wasting; Social determinants