Diarrhea, Stimulation and Growth Predict Neurodevelopment in Young North Indian Children
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Background and Objective. Infants and young children in low to middle-income countries are at risk for adverse neurodevelopment due to multiple risk factors. In this study, we sought to identify stimulation and learning opportunities, growth, and burden of respiratory infections and diarrhea as predictors for neurodevelopment. Methods. We visited 422 North Indian children 6 to 30 months old weekly for six months. Childhood illnesses were assessed biweekly. At end study, we assessed neurodevelopment using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire 3rd ed. (ASQ-3) and gathered information on stimulation and learning opportunities. We identified predictors for ASQ-3 scores in multiple linear and logistic regression models. Results. We were able to explain 30.5% of the variation in the total ASQ-3 score by the identified predictors. When adjusting for child characteristics and annual family income, stimulation and learning opportunities explained most of the variation by 25.1%. Height for age (standardized beta: 0.12, p<.05) and weight for height z-scores (std. beta: 0.09, p<.05) were positively associated with the total ASQ-3 score, while number of days with diarrhea was negatively associated with these scores (std. beta: -0.13, p<0.01). Conclusion. Our results support the importance of early child stimulation and general nutrition for child development. Our study also suggests that diarrhea is an additional risk factor for adverse neurodevelopment in vulnerable children.