Poor Toddlers Are Smaller

Regardless of hereditary factors such as maternal height and education level, children from poor families are more likely to be shorter than their peers. "Children from families experiencing a persistent lack of money to cover their basic needs risk facing a growth delay," says Louise Séguin who directed the study of Master’s student Zéphyre Ehounoux, noting the possibility holds true after factoring in children's health at birth, sibling rank, maternal health and maternal education. "Children who experienced consistent poverty were more likely to have delayed growth versus children whose basic needs were met."

The researchers used data from the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development, which twice surveyed mothers concerning the height and economic status of their children when their offspring were two-and-a-half and four-years-old. As part of their analysis, the researchers created a novel "poverty measurement" by asking 1,929 mothers if they had been short of income to ensure their children's basic needs: food, housing, heating, clothing, medication and transportation.

"Although Canada is an industrialised country featuring a universal healthcare system and accessible day care, the country still features health inequalities directly related to poverty," adds Professor Maria-Victoria Zunzunegui, stressing those inequities translate to deficient nutrition, bad housing conditions that can cause breathing illnesses such as asthma that in turn can lead to shorter stature. In addition to these environmental problems, poor children are often exposed to multiple psychosocial adversities. These hardships can lead to chronic stress that can affect their health as well as their growth.

"Our study demonstrates the need for economic policies to support parents with young children so that they have the sufficient economic resources to cover their basic needs in both the short and long term to ensure their normal development," stresses Séguin.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Montreal