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Socioeconomic status and chronic child malnutrition: wealth and maternal education matter more in the Peruvian Andes than nationally
Authors: Urke HB, Bull T, Mittelmark MB.
Source: Nutrition Research, Oct2011, Vol. 31 Issue 10, p741-747, 7p
Topic(s): Child health
Education
Wealth Index
Country: Latin American/Caribbean
  Peru
Published: OCT 2011
Abstract: Abstract This study investigated the association of parents' socioeconomic status (SES) with child stunting in the Peruvian Andes and in Peru nationally. It was hypothesized that the relationship of SES to child stunting would be weaker in the Andean compared with the national sample. This is consistent with earlier research indicating that the relationship of SES to health may be weak in poor regions. The data were from the Demographic and Health Survey 2004 to 2006. Two samples of children 3 to 60 months old were compared: a national sample (n = 1426) and an Andean sample (n = 543). Malnutrition was measured using the indicator "stunting," which is small stature for age. Socioeconomic status was measured using parental education, occupation, and household wealth index (WI). In both samples, SES was significantly related to stunting. The odds of stunting in the poorest WI quintile were significantly higher than in the richest quintile. The same pattern was observed in children of mothers having incomplete primary education compared with children of mothers having complete secondary or higher education. The odds of stunting were significantly lower in children of mothers working at home compared with mothers in professional occupations. The associations of WI and maternal education with stunting were significantly stronger in the Andean compared with the national sample; the study did not find support for the hypothesis. Even in very poor regions such as the Andes, SES may be associated with child health, suggesting the importance of public health measures to overcome the health disadvantages experienced by children living in low SES households.