The Impact of Nutrition on Child Development at 3 Years in a Rural Community of

Seyed Sadat Ali, S M Dhaded, Shivprasad S Goudar


Background: In India, child malnutrition is mostly the result of high levels of exposure to infection and inappropriate infant and young child feeding and caring practices and has its origins almost entirely during the first 2 to 3 years of life. This study aims in assessing the impact of breast feeding on child development of children at 3 years.

Methods: About 530 children at 3 years were assessed for
developmental delay by Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ). Growth measurements and hemoglobin estimation were carried out at the time of developmental evaluation. Physical growth was assessed by using World Health Organization growth charts. Children were assessed for their duration of breast feeding and weaning period. They were analyzed for the feeding practices versus developmental outcome. Chi‑square test was used to compare the categorical variables. Differences were considered significant at P < 0.05 level.

Results: Children who were exclusively breastfed for at least 6 or more months had significantly higher ASQ scores with P value for communication (0.003), gross motor (0.004), fine motor (0.007) and problem solving (0.013) except personal social (0.059) compared with children who had exclusively breastfed for less than 6 months. Children, who were weaned beyond 12th month, had significantly higher ASQ scores with P value for communication (0.004), gross motor (0.091), fine motor (0.044), problem solving (0.001) and personal social (0.012) as against those who were weaned at 6th month or earlier in all domains.

Conclusion: Breast feeding has a positive effect on the overall development of the child and should be promoted in the present generation. In India, c hild malnutrition is responsible for a higher percentage of the country’s burden of disease. Undernutrition also affects cognitive and motor development and undermines educational attainment; and ultimately impacts on productivity at work and at home, with adverse implications for income and economic growth.

Keywords: Breast feeding, child development, undernutrition

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