Association of maternal height with child mortality, anthropometric failure, and anemia in India
Author(s)/Editor(s): Subramanian SV, Ackerson LK, Smith GD, John NA
Publication date: Vol. 301 No. 16, April 22/29, 2009
"Most investigations of child health determinants have focused on contemporaneous factors such as maternal behaviors, nutrition, and environmental conditions, with little attention given to intergenerational factors. In an analysis of data from India's National Family Health Survey, Subramanian and colleagues examined the association between maternal adult height—a reflection of the mother's social and nutritional health in childhood—and child mortality, anthropometric failure (eg, underweight, stunting, and wasting), and anemia. In analyses that adjusted for demographic and socioeconomic variables, the authors found that maternal height was inversely associated with mortality and anthropometric failure among children aged 0 to 59 months."
Context: Prior research on the determinants of child health has focused on contemporaneous risk factors such as maternal behaviors, dietary factors, and immediate environmental conditions. Research on intergenerational factors that might also predispose a child to increased health adversity remains limited.
Results: In adjusted models, a 1-cm increase in maternal height was associated with a decreased risk of child mortality (relative risk [RR], 0.978; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.970-0.987; P < .001), underweight (RR, 0.971; 95% CI, 0.968-0.974; P < .001), stunting (RR, 0.971; 95% CI, 0.968-0.0973; P < .001), wasting (RR, 0.989; 95% CI, 0.984-0.994; P < .001), and anemia (RR, 0.998; 95% CI, 0.997-0.999; P = .02). Children born to mothers who were less than 145 cm in height were 1.71 times more likely to die (95% CI, 1.37-2.13) (absolute probability, 0.09; 95% CI, 0.07-0.12) compared with mothers who were at least 160 cm in height (absolute probability, 0.05; 95% CI, 0.04-0.07). Similar patterns were observed for anthropometric failure related to underweight and stunting. Paternal height was not associated with child mortality or anemia but was associated with child anthropometric failure.