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Sociodemographic Predictors of Early Postnatal Growth: Evidence from a Chilean Infancy Cohort


Von Holle, Ann F.; North, Kari E.; Gahagan, Sheila; Burrows, Raquel A.; Blanco, Estela; Lozoff, Betsy; Howard, Annie Green; Justice, Anne E.; Graff, Misa; & Voruganti, V. Saroja (2020). Sociodemographic Predictors of Early Postnatal Growth: Evidence from a Chilean Infancy Cohort. BMJ Open, 10(6), e033695. PMCID: PMC7282289


OBJECTIVES: Infant anthropometric growth varies across socioeconomic factors, including maternal education and income, and may serve as an indicator of environmental influences in early life with long-term health consequences. Previous research has identified sociodemographic gradients in growth with a focus on the first year and beyond, but estimates are sparse for growth before 6 months. Thus, our objective was to examine the relationship between sociodemographic factors and infant growth patterns between birth and 5 months of age.
DESIGN: Prospective cohort study.
SETTINGS: Low-income to middle-income neighbourhoods in Santiago, Chile (1991-1996).
PARTICIPANTS: 1412 participants from a randomised iron-deficiency anaemia preventive trial in healthy infants.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Longitudinal anthropometrics including monthly weight (kg), length (cm) and weight-for-length (WFL) values. For each measure, we estimated three individual-level growth parameters (size, timing and velocity) from SuperImposition by Translation and Rotation models. Size and timing changes represent vertical and horizontal growth curve shifts, respectively, and velocity change represents growth rate shifts. We estimated the linear association between growth parameters and gestational age, maternal age, education and socioeconomic position (SEP).
RESULTS: Lower SEP was associated with a slower linear (length) velocity growth parameter (-0.22, 95% CI -0.31 to -0.13)-outcome units are per cent change in velocity from the average growth curve. Lower SEP was associated with later WFL growth timing as demonstrated through the tempo growth parameter for females (0.25, 95% CI 0.05 to 0.42)-outcome units are shifts in days from the average growth curve. We found no evidence of associations between SEP and the weight size, timing or velocity growth rate parameters.
CONCLUSION: Previous research on growth in older infants and children shows associations between lower SEP with slower length velocity. We found evidence supporting this association in the first 5 months of life, which may inform age-specific prevention efforts aimed at infant length growth.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

BMJ Open


Von Holle, Ann F.
North, Kari E.
Gahagan, Sheila
Burrows, Raquel A.
Blanco, Estela
Lozoff, Betsy
Howard, Annie Green
Justice, Anne E.
Graff, Misa
Voruganti, V. Saroja