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

Reynaldo Martorell*, Bernardo L. Horta, Linda S. Adair, Aryeh D. Stein, Linda Richter, Caroline H.D. Fall, Santosh K. Bhargava, S. K.Dey Biswas, Lorna Perez, Fernando C. Barros, Cesar G. Victora, Pedro Hallal, Denise Gigante, Manuel Ramirez-Zea, Vinod Kapani, Clive Osmond, Andrew Wills, Darren Dahly, Christopher Kuzawa, Harshpal Singh SachdevShane A. Norris, Mathew Mainwaring, Daniel Lopes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

171 Scopus citations

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 birthweight 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 birthweight, ∼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 birthweight, 1 SD increase of CW between 0 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 birthweight; 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)348-354
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Volume140
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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