Weight gain in the first two years of life is an important predictor of schooling outcomes in pooled analyses from five birth cohorts from low- and middle-income countries

SOURCE: The Journal of Nutrition
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2009
TITLE AUTHOR(S): R.Martorell, B.L.Horta, L.S.Adair, A.D.Stein, L.Richter, C.H.D.Fall, S.K.Bhargava, S.K.D.Biswas, L.Perez, F.C.Barros, C.G.Victora, Consortium on Health Orientated Research
KEYWORDS: BIRTH TO TEN NOW BIRTH TO TWENTY (BT20), CHILDREN, EDUCATION ACHIEVEMENT, WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
DEPARTMENT: Human and Social Development (HSD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 6144

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Abstract

Schooling predicts better reproductive outcomes, better long-term health, and increased lifetime earnings. We used data from 5 cohorts (Brazil, Guatemala, India, the Philippines, and South Africa) to explore the relative importance of birth weight and postnatal weight gain for schooling in pooled analyses (n = 7945) that used appropriate statistical methods [conditional weight (CW) gain measures that are uncorrelated with prior weights] and controlled for confounding. One SD increase in birth weight, ~0.5 kg, was associated with 0.21 y more schooling and 8% decreased risk of grade failure. One SD increase in CW gain between 0 and 2 y, ~0.7 kg, was associated with higher estimates, 0.43 y more schooling, and 12% decreased risk of failure. One SD increase of CW gain between 2 and 4 y, ~0.9 kg, was associated with only 0.07 y more schooling but not with failure. Also, in children born in the lowest tertile of birth weight, 1 SD increase of CW between 0 a and 2 y was associated with 0.52 y more schooling compared with 0.30 y in those in the upper tertile. Relationships with age at school entry were inconsistent. In conclusion, weight gain during the first 2 y of life had the strongest associations with schooling followed by birth weight; weight gain between 2 and 4 y had little relationship to schooling. Catch-up growth in smaller babies benefited schooling. Nutrition interventions aimed at women and children under 2 y are among the key strategies for achieving the millennium development goal of universal primary education by 2015.