Growth differences between children of highland and coastal Ecuador

William R. Leonard*, Kathleen M. DeWalt, James P. Stansbury, M. Katherine McCaston

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


This study examines patterns of growth in height and weight among children (<60 months) of highland and coastal agricultural communities of Ecuador. Highland children are significantly shorter, but not significantly lighter than their coastal peers. Linear growth rates (cm/6 months) are comparable between the two samples. Growth rates for body weight (kg/6 m) are similar in highland and coastal boys, whereas highland girls display larger weight gains than their coastal counterparts. In both regions, linear growth is compromised to a much greater extent than growth in body weight, and growth faltering for both height and weight is most pronounced between birth and 24 months of age. The similarity in growth rates between the highland and coastal samples suggests that high altitude hypoxia plays a relatively small role in shaping growth during the first five years after birth. Rather, it appears that most of the disparity in height between the two samples can be attributed to differences established by 6 months of age. The pattern of growth retardation seen in both regions during the first 24 postnatal months is similar to that observed among impoverished populations throughout the world and is likely associated with the influence of nutritional and disease stressors. After 2 years of age, little or no “catch up” growth is seen in height, whereas improvements in weight gain are more pronounced, especially among highland girls. Ongoing research is investigating the nutritional and socio‐economic correlates of growth within each region. © Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-57
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1995


  • Adaptation
  • Andes
  • Anthropometry
  • High altitude
  • Mixed‐longitudinal study
  • Nutritional status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


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