Short but catching up: Statural growth among native Amazonian Bolivian children

Ricardo Godoy*, Colleen Nyberg, Dan T.A. Eisenberg, Oyunbileg Magvanjav, Eliezer Shinnar, William R. Leonard, Clarence Gravlee, Victoria Reyes-García, Thomas W. McDade, Tomás Huanca, Susan Tanner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations

Abstract

The ubiquity and consequences of childhood growth stunting (<-2 SD in height-for-age Z score, HAZ) in rural areas of low-income nations has galvanized research into the reversibility of stunting, but the shortage of panel data has hindered progress. Using panel data from a native Amazonian society of foragers-farmers in Bolivia (Tsimane'), we estimate rates of catch-up growth for stunted children. One hundred forty-six girls and 158 boys 2 ≤ age ≤ 7 were measured annually during 2002-2006. Annual Δ height in cm and in HAZ were regressed separately against baseline stunting and control variables related to attributes of the child, mother, household, and village. Children stunted at baseline had catch-up growth rates 0.11 SD/year higher than their nonstunted age and sex peers, with a higher rate among children farther from towns. The rate of catch up did not differ by the child's sex. A 10% rise in household income and an additional younger sibling lowered by 0.16 SD/year and 0.53 SD/year the rate of growth. Results were weaker when measuring Δ height in cm rather than in HAZ. Possible reasons for catch-up growth include (a) omitted variable bias, (b) parental reallocation of resources to redress growth faltering, particularly if parents perceive the benefits of redressing growth faltering for child school achievement, and (c) developmental plasticity during this period when growth rates are most rapid and linear growth trajectories have not yet canalized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-347
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Biology
Volume22
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology
  • Genetics

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