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Sociodemographic and nutritional correlates of neurobehavioral development: a study of young children in a rural region of Ecuador

Publication Abstract

Handal, A.J., B. Lozoff, J. Breilh, and Sioban D. Harlow. 2007. "Sociodemographic and nutritional correlates of neurobehavioral development: a study of young children in a rural region of Ecuador." Revista Panamericana De Salud Publica-Pan American Journal of Public Health, 21(5): 292-300.

OBJECTIVE: To identify and describe the sociodemographic and nutritional characteristics associated with neurobehavioral development among young children living in three communities in the northeastern Andean region of Cayambe-Tabacundo, Ecuador. METHODS: Women in the study communities who had a child 3 to 61 months of age completed a questionnaire about maternal and child health and sociodemographic characteristics. The Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) was directly administered to 283 children by two trained interviewers. Growth measurements and a hemoglobin finger-prick blood test were obtained in 2003–2004. Prevalence of developmental delay was calculated, and associations between child development and maternal, child, and household characteristics were explored. RESULTS: High frequencies of developmental delay were observed. Children 3 to 23 months old displayed delay in gross motor skills (30.1%), and children 48 to 61 months old displayed delay in problem-solving skills (73.4%) and fine motor skills (28.1%). A high frequency of both anemia (60.4%) and stunting (53.4%) was observed for all age groups. Maternal educational level was positively associated with communication and problem-solving skills, and monthly household income was positively associated with communication, gross motor, and problem-solving skills. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest a high prevalence of developmental delay and poor child health in this population. Child health status and the child's environment may contribute to developmental delay in this region of Ecuador, but sociodemographic factors affecting opportunities for stimulation may also play a role. Research is needed to identify what is causing high percentages of neurobehavioral developmental delay in this region of Ecuador.

DOI:10.1590/S1020-49892007000400004 (Full Text)

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