Psychosocial and environmental determinants of child cognitive development in rural south africa and tanzania: findings from the mal-ed cohort
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionBMC Public Health. 2020, 20, 505 (2020). 10.1186/s12889-020-08598-5
Background Approximately 66% of children under the age of 5 in Sub-Saharan African countries do not reach their full cognitive potential, the highest percentage in the world. Because the majority of studies investigating child cognitive development have been conducted in high-income countries (HICs), there is limited knowledge regarding the determinants of child development in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Methods This analysis includes 401 mother-child dyads from the South Africa and Tanzania sites of the Etiology, Risk Factors, and Interactions of Enteric Infections and Malnutrition and the Consequences for Child Health and Development (MAL-ED) longitudinal birth cohort study. We investigated the effect of psychosocial and environmental determinants on child cognitive development measured by the Wechsler Preschool Primary Scales of Intelligence (WPPSI) at 5 years of age using multivariable linear regression. Results Socioeconomic status was most strongly associated with child cognitive development (WPSSI Score Difference (SD):14.27, 95% CI:1.96, 26.59). Modest associations between the organization of the home environment and its opportunities for cognitive stimulation and child cognitive development were also found (SD: 3.08, 95% CI: 0.65, 5.52 and SD: 3.18, 95% CI: 0.59, 5.76, respectively). Conclusion This study shows a stronger association with child cognitive development at 5 years of age for socioeconomic status compared to more proximal measures of psychosocial and environmental determinants. A better understanding of the role of these factors is needed to inform interventions aiming to alleviate the burden of compromised cognitive development for children in LMICs.