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Age heterogeneities in child growth and its associated socio-demographic factors: a cross-sectional study in India
Authors: Suryakant Yadav, and Pravat Bhandari
Source: BMC Pediatrics, Volume 22, issue 1; DOI:
Topic(s): Child health
Environmental health
Country: Asia
Published: JUN 2022
Abstract: Abstract Background: The impacts of socio-demographic and environmental risk factors on child growth have been widely documented. However, it remains unclear whether the impacts of such risk factors on child growth have remained static or changed with child’s age. The present study aims to assess the underlying age heterogeneities in child growth and its potential determinants over age in under-five children. Methods: Cross-sectional data on child height (measured as height-for-age z-score, i.e., HAZ) and weight (measured as weight-for-age z-score, i.e., WAZ) and potential confounding factors from India’s 2015–16 National Family Health Survey (NFHS) were used to construct anthropometric age-profiles by a number of bio-demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. Further, age-interacted multilevel regression analyses were performed to examine differential effects of such/those risk factors on child height and weight by age. Results: Faltered height and weight growth during first two years of life was noticed in children of all socioeconomic groups studied, albeit with varying magnitude. In case of child’s height, factors such as short birth interval, higher birth order, maternal education, household wealth, district level mortality rate have shown strong interaction with child’s age during the first 23 months, signifying their age-varying role in different developmental stages of child growth. These factors explain the observed upward and downward shifts in height curve during first two years. Some of these variables (e.g., household wealth) have shown even stronger age interactions after the second birthday of children. For child’s weight, interactive effects of most socio-demographic risk factors attenuated parabolically with child’s age. Conclusions The impacts of several risk factors, measured at the child, mother, community, and district levels, on child growth indicators varied significantly with the child’s age. Nutritional interventions aimed at preventing poor linear growth in children in India should consider these underlying age heterogeneities for growth determinants into account.