Shorter moms spell higher death rates for kids

A mother’s shorter height spells higher death rate for her child, particularly in developing countries, says a new study by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health, Boston.

Shorter moms spell higher death rates for kids 219x300 Shorter moms spell higher death rates for kidsThere is also a greater likelihood of these children being underweight and having a reduced rate of growth, says the study led by S.V. Subramanian, associate professor of society, human development, and health at Boston’s Harvard School.

Along with his colleagues Emre Ozaltin and Kenneth Hill, Subramanian investigated the potential long-term effects of maternal stature on offspring mortality, underweight, stunting, and wasting in infancy and early childhood.

The study included an analysis of 109 Demographic and Health Surveys in 54 low-to-middle income countries, conducted between 1991 and 2008.

The study consisted of a nationally representative cross-sectional sample of children — aged 0 to 59 months — born to mothers, aged 15 to 49 years.

Sample sizes were 2,661,519 (mortality), 587,096 (underweight), 558,347 (stunting), and 568,609 (wasting) children. The average response rate across surveys in the mortality data set was 92.8 percent.

Of the more than 2.6 million children in the study, 11.7 percent died before reaching five years. The prevalence of child mortality ranged from 24.7 percent in Niger to 3.3 percent in Jordan.

In adjusted models, a 0.4 inch increase in maternal height was associated with a decreased risk of offspring mortality, underweight, stunting, and wasting.

Compared with the tallest mothers (5feet 3inch or taller), each lower height category had substantially higher risk of child mortality, with children born to mothers of height shorter than 4feet 9inch having an increased risk of death of nearly 40 percent, says a Harvard School release.

“This suggests the presence of an intergenerational transmission from mother’s own nutrition, disease, and socio-economic circumstances during her childhood to her offspring’s health and mortality in their infancy and childhood,” wrote the study authors. These findings were published in the Wednesday edition of JAMA.

Subramanian’s undergraduate and masters training was in Human Geography, with specialization in Urban and Regional Development and Planning from the University of Delhi.

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