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Higher maternal education is associated with favourable growth of young children in different countries
Addenbrookes Hospital, England University of Cambridge, England .
Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Peoples R China .
Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Peoples R China .
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Psychology. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
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2013 (English)In: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, ISSN 0143-005X, E-ISSN 1470-2738, Vol. 67, no 7, 595-602 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background Childhood growth affects long-term health and could contribute to health inequalities that persist throughout life. Methods We compared growth data of 4-year-old to 6-year-old children born 1997-2002 in UK (n = 15 168), Sweden (n = 6749) and rural China (n = 10 327). SD scores (SDS) were calculated against the WHO Growth Standard. Obesity and overweight were defined by the International Obesity Taskforce cut-offs, and stunting, underweight and thinness by height, weight or body mass index (BMI)less than-2 SDS. Associations with maternal education were standardised by calculating the Slope Index of Inequality (SII). Results Mean SDS height, weight and BMI in the UK (-0.01, 0.42, 0.62, respectively) and Sweden (0.45, 0.59, 0.45) were higher than in China (-0.98, -0.82, -0.29). Higher maternal education was consistently associated with taller offspring height SDS (SII: UK 0.25; Sweden 0.17; China 1.06). Underweight and stunting were less common in the UK (prevalence: 0.6% and 2.2%, respectively) and Sweden (0.3% and 0.6%) than in China (9.5% and 16.4%), where these outcomes were inversely associated with maternal education (SII: -25.8% and -12.7%). Obesity prevalence in the UK, Sweden and China was 4.8%, 3.7% and 0.4%, respectively. Maternal education was inversely associated with offspring obesity in the UK (SII: -3.3%) and Sweden (-2.8%), but not in China (+0.3%). Conclusions Higher maternal education was associated with more favourable growth in young children: lower obesity and overweight in the UK and Sweden, and lower stunting and underweight in rural China. Public health strategies to optimise growth in early childhood need to acknowledge socioeconomic factors, but possibly with a different emphasis in different settings.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
BMJ Publishing Group , 2013. Vol. 67, no 7, 595-602 p.
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-96453DOI: 10.1136/jech-2012-202021ISI: 000320307200011OAI: diva2:642944
Available from: 2013-08-23 Created: 2013-08-20 Last updated: 2013-08-23

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Koch, FelixLudvigsson, Johnny
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PsychologyFaculty of Arts and SciencesDivision of Clinical SciencesFaculty of Health SciencesDepartment of Paediatrics in Linköping
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Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
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