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Understanding urban inequalities in children’s linear growth outcomes: a trend and decomposition analysis of 39,049 children in Bangladesh (2000-2018)
Authors: Hayman Win, Jordyn Wallenborn, Nicole Probst-Hensch and Günther Fink
Source: BMC Public Health, Volume 21, issue 2192; DOI:
Topic(s): Child health
Health equity
Country: Asia
Published: NOV 2021
Abstract: Background: Despite significant progress in reducing child undernutrition, Bangladesh remains among the top six countries globally with the largest burden of child stunting and has disproportionately high stunting prevalence among the urban poor. We use population representative data to identify key predictors of child stunting in Bangladesh and assess their contributions to linear growth differences observed between urban poor and non-poor children. Methods: We combined six rounds of Demographic and Health Survey data spanning 2000-2018 and used official poverty rates to classify the urban population into poor and non-poor households. We identified key stunting determinants using stepwise selection method. Regression-decomposition was used to quantify contributions of these key determinants to poverty-based intra-urban differences in child linear growth status. Results: Key stunting determinants identified in our study predicted 84% of the linear growth difference between urban poor and non-poor children. Child’s place of birth (27%), household wealth (22%), maternal education (18%), and maternal body mass index (11%) were the largest contributors to the intra-urban child linear growth gap. Difference in average height-for-age z score between urban poor and non-poor children declined by 0.31 standard deviations between 2000 and 2018. About one quarter of this observed decrease was explained by reduced differentials between urban poor and non-poor in levels of maternal education and maternal underweight status. Conclusions: Although the intra-urban disparity in child linear growth status declined over the 2000-2018 period, socioeconomic gaps remain significant. Increased nutrition-sensitive programs and investments targeting the urban poor to improve girls’ education, household food security, and maternal and child health services could aid in further narrowing the remaining linear growth gap.