Passive Versus Active Service Delivery: Comparing the Effects of Two Parenting Interventions on Early Cognitive Development in Rural China
We present the results of a cluster-randomized controlled trial that evaluates the effects of a free, center-based parenting intervention on early cognitive development and parenting practices in 100 rural villages in China. We then compare these effects to a previous trial of a home-based intervention conducted in the same region, using the same parenting curriculum and public service system, accounting for potential differences between the studies. We find that the center-based intervention did not have a significant impact on child development outcomes, but did lead to increases in the material investments, time investments, and parenting skills of caregivers. The average impact of the center-based intervention on child skills and investments in children was significantly smaller than the home-visiting intervention. Analysis of the possible mechanisms suggests that the difference in effects was driven primarily by different patterns of selection into program participation.
Early Childhood Development and Parental Training Interventions in Rural China: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Introduction: Inadequate care during early childhood can lead to long-term deficits in skills. Parenting programmes that encourage investment in young children are a promising tool for improving early development outcomes and long-term opportunities in low-income and middle-income regions, such as rural China.
Methods: We conducted a systematic review and a meta-analysis to investigate the prevalence of early developmental delays and stimulating parenting practices as well as the effect of parental training programmes on child development outcomes in rural China. We obtained data in English from EconPapers, PubMed, PsycARTICLES, Cochrane Library, Web of Science and Scopus (Elsevier) and in Chinese from China National Knowledge Infrastructure, Wanfang Data and VIP Information. We conducted frequentist meta-analyses of aggregate data and estimated random-effects meta-regressions. Certainty of evidence was rated according to the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach.
Results: We identified 19 observational studies on the prevalence of developmental delays and stimulating parenting practices for children under 5 years of age (n=19 762) and ten studies on the impact of parental training programmes on early child development (n=13 766). Children’s risk of cognitive, language and social-emotional delays in the rural study sites (covering 14 provinces mostly in Central and Western China) was 45%, 46%, and 36%, respectively. Parental training programmes had a positive impact on child cognition, language and social-emotional development.
Conclusion: There is evidence to suggest that early developmental delay and the absence of stimulating parenting practices (ie, reading, storytelling and singing with children) may be prevalent across rural, low-income and middle-income regions in Central and Western China. Results support the effectiveness of parental training programmes to improve early development by encouraging parental engagement.
This study examines the effects of local and nationwide COVID‐19 disease control measures on the health and economy of China's rural population. We conducted phone surveys with 726 randomly selected village informants across seven rural Chinese provinces in February 2020. Four villages (0.55%) reported infections, and none reported deaths. Disease control measures had been universally implemented in all sample villages. About 74% of informants reported that villagers with wage‐earning jobs outside the village had stopped working due to workplace closures. A higher percentage of rural individuals could not work due to transportation, housing, and other constraints. Local governments had taken measures to reduce the impact of COVID‐19. Although schools in all surveyed villages were closed, 71% of village informants reported that students were attending classes online. Overall, measures to control COVID‐19 appear to have been successful in limiting disease transmission in rural communities outside the main epidemic area. Rural Chinese citizens, however, have experienced significant economic consequences from the disease control measures.
Early Childhood Reading in Rural China and Obstacles to Caregiver Investment in Young Children: A Mixed-Methods Analysis
Background: Maternal health during pregnancy is a key input in fetal health and child development. This study
aims to systematically describe the health behaviors of pregnant women in rural China and identify which
subgroups of women are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors during pregnancy.
Visual Impairment in Rural and Migrant Chinese School-Going Children: Prevalence, Severity, Correction and Association
Conditional Cash Transfers, Uptake of Maternal and Child Health Services, and Health Outcomes in Western Rural China
Passive versus Active Service Delivery: Comparing the Effects of Two Parenting Interventions on Early Cognitive Development in Rural China
Using Standardised Patients to Assess the Quality of Medical Records: An Application and Evidence from Rural China
Concurrent Validity of the Ages and Stages Questionnaire and the Bayley Scales of Infant Development III in China
Choosing a valid and feasible method to measure child developmental outcomes is key to addressing developmental delays, which have been shown to be associated with high levels of unemployment, participation in crime, and teen pregnancies. However, measuring early childhood development (ECD) with multi-dimensional diagnostic tests such as the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development III (Bayley-III) can be time-consuming and expensive; therefore, parental screening tools such as the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ-3) are frequently an alternative measure of early childhood development in largescale research. The ASQ is also becoming more frequently used as the first step to identify children at risk for developmental delays before conducting a diagnostic test to confirm. However, the effectiveness of the ASQ-3 is uncertain. In this study, we evaluate the accuracy of the ASQ-3 as a screening measure for children at risk of developmental delay in rural China by age group. To do so, we administered the Bayley-III, widely considered to be the “gold standard” of ECD diagnostic tests, to a sample of 1,831 five to twenty-four monthold children and also administered the ASQ-3 to their caregivers. We then compared the outcomes of the ASQ-3 test to those of the Bayley-III. We find that the ASQ-3 was significantly though weakly correlated with the Bayley-III and that the strength of this correlation increased with child age and was stronger when the mother was the primary caregiver (as compared to the grandmother). We also find that the sensitivity and specificity of ASQ-3 ranged widely. The overall findings suggest that the ASQ-3 may not be a very accurate screening tool for identifying developmentally delayed children, especially for children under 13 months of age or children whose primary caregiver is not the mother.
Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) of Cysticercosis in School-Aged Children in Tibetan Rural Farming Areas of Western China: Implications for Intervention Planning
Neurocysticercosis (NCC) significantly contributes to morbidity in developing countries. We recently published a study of prevalence and risk factors in school-aged children in three mountainous areas in Sichuan province of western China. Using structural equation modeling (SEM) on data from that study to guide intervention planning, here we examine risk factors grouped into three broad interventional categories: sociodemographics, human behavior, and sources of pork and pig husbandry. Because neuroimaging is not easily available, using SEM allows for the use of multiple observed variables (serological tests and symptoms) to represent probable NCC cases. Data collected from 2608 students was included in this analysis. Within this group, seroprevalence of cysticercosis IgG antibodies was 5.4%. SEM results showed that sociodemographic factors (b = 0.33, p < 0.05), sources of pork and pig husbandry (b = 0.26, p < 0.001), and behavioral factors (b = 0.33, p < 0.05) were all directly related to probable NCC in school-aged children. Sociodemographic factors affected probable NCC indirectly via sources of pork and pig husbandry factors (b = 0.07, p < 0.001) and behavioral variables (b = 0.07, p < 0.001). Both sociodemographic factors (b = 0.07, p < 0.05) and sources of pork and pig husbandry factors (b = 0.10, p < 0.01) affected probable NCC indirectly via behavioral variables. Because behavioral variables not only had a large direct effect but also served as a critical bridge to strengthen the effect of sociodemographics and sources of pork and pig husbandry on probable NCC, our findings suggest that interventions targeting behavioral factors may be the most effective in reducing disease.
Poor rural areas in China exhibit the country’s highest rates of child mortality, often stemming from preventable health conditions such as diarrhea and respiratory infection. In this study, we investigate the association between breastfeeding and disease among children aged 6–24 months in poor rural counties in China. To do this, we conducted a longitudinal, quantitative analysis of socioeconomic demographics, health outcomes, and breastfeeding practices for 1802 child–caregiver dyads across 11 nationally designated poverty counties in southern Shaanxi Province in 2013–2014. We found low rates of continued breastfeeding that decreased as children developed: from 58.2% at 6–12 months, to 21.6% at 12–18 months, and finally to 5.2% at 18–24 months. These suboptimal rates are lower than all but one other country in the Asia-Pacific region. We further found that only 18.3% of children 6–12 months old met the World Health Organization (WHO)-recommended threshold for minimum dietary diversity, defined as consuming four or more of seven specific food groups. Breastfeeding was strongly associated with lower rates of both diarrhea and cough in bivariate and multivariate analyses. As the first analysis to use longitudinal data to examine the relationship between continued breastfeeding and child illness in China, our study confirms the need for programmatic interventions that promote continued breastfeeding in order to improve toddler health in the region.
Half of rural toddlers aged 0–3 years in China’s Qinling Mountainous region are cognitively delayed. While recent studies have linked poor child development measures to the absence of positive parenting behaviors, much less is known about the role that caregiver depression might play in shaping child development. In this paper, a mixed methods analysis is used to explore the prevalence of depression; measure the association between caregiver depression and children’s developmental delays, correlates of depression, and the potential reasons for caregiver depression among women in rural China. The analysis brings together results from a large-scale survey of 1,787 caregivers across 118 villages in one northwestern province, as well as information from in-depth interviews with 55 female caregivers from these same study sites. Participants were asked to respond to the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale-21 (DASS-21) as well as a scale to measure children’s social-emotional development, the Ages and Stages Questionnaire: Social-Emotional (ASQ-SE). We also administered a test of early childhood development, the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development (BSID-III), to all of the study household’s infants and toddlers. The results show that the prevalence of depression may be as high as 23.5 percent among all female caregivers (defined as scoring in the mild or higher category of the DASS-21). Grandmothers have higher prevalence of depression than mother caregivers (p < 0.01). Caregiver depression also is significantly associated with a 0.53 SD worsening of children’s social-emotional development (p < 0.01) and a 0.12 SD decrease in children’s language development (p < 0.05). Our qualitative findings reveal six predominant reasons for caregiver depression: lack of social support from family and friends; the burden of caregiving; lack of control and agency within the household; within-family conflict; poverty; the perception of material wealth as a measure of self-worth. Our findings show a serious lack of understanding of mental health issues among rural women, and suggest that rural communities could benefit greatly from an educational program concerning mental health and its influence on child development. Our findings confirm the need for a comprehensive approach toward rural health, with particular attention paid to mental health awareness and support to elderly caregivers.
Do Infant Feeding Practices Differ Between Grandmothers and Mothers in Rural China? Evidence From Rural Shaanxi Province
This article explores the problem of cognitive delays among toddlers in rural China and the role of their caregivers in producing low levels of cognition (i.e., low IQ). According to the results of a well-tested international scale of child development, the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID), cognitive delays are alarmingly common, and nearly half the toddlers in our sample score an IQ of less than 84 on the BSID test (more than one standard deviation below the mean).
Effect of a Local Vision Care Center on Eyeglasses Use and School Performance in Rural China A Cluster Randomized Clinical Trial
Can a county-based vision center increase eyeglasses use and improve school performance among primary schoolchildren in rural China? This cluster randomized clinical trial of 31 schools and 2613 participants showed that children who received eyeglasses earlier in the school year performed significantly better on an end-of-year mathematics test than children who received eyeglasses later in the year, equivalent to half a semester. Provision of free eyeglasses also improved children's use of spectacles.
Prevalence and risk factors for Taenia solium cysticercosis in school-aged children: A school based study in western Sichuan, People’s Republic of China
Taenia solium cysticercosis affects millions of impoverished people worldwide and can cause neurocysticercosis, an infection of the central nervous system which is potentially fatal. Children may represent an especially vulnerable population to neurocysticercosis, due to the risk of cognitive impairment during formative school years. While previous epidemiologic studies have suggested high prevalence in rural China, the prevalence in children as well as risk factors and impact of disease in low-resource areas remain poorly characterized.
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to describe the policy and trends in rural education in China over the past 40 years; and also discuss a number of challenges that are faced by China’s rural school system.
Design/methodology/approach – The authors use secondary data on policies and trends over the past 40 years for preschool, primary/junior high school, and high school.
The effect of a micronutrient powder home fortification program on anemia and cognitive outcomes among young children in rural China: a cluster randomized trial
Background: Anemia early in life has been associated with delayed cognitive and motor development. The WHO recommends home fortification using multiple micronutrient powders (MNPs) containing iron as a strategy to address anemia in children under two. We evaluated the effects of a program freely distributing MNP sachets to caregivers of infants in rural China.
Affecting more than one billion people around the world, neglected tropical diseases are a group of diseases which mainly occur in poor populations living in tropical and subtropical environments. Although considered a middle-income country, neglected diseases persist in many rural areas of China. Neurocysticercosis (NCC), an infection caused when the larvae of the tapeworm Taenia solium (T. solium) enters the human brain, is a prime example of this. Infection can lead to seizures, severe headaches, decreased cognitive abilities and other debilitating neurologic symptoms.
The Gender Gap Among School Children in Poor Rural Areas of Western China: Evidence From a Multi-Province Dataset
Impact of Text Message Reminders on Caregivers’ Adherence to a Home Fortification Program Against Child Anemia in Rural Western China: a Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial
Objectives: To test whether text message reminders sent to caregivers will improve the effectiveness of a home micronutrient fortification program in western China.
Methods: A cluster-randomized controlled trial was carried out in 351 villages in Shaanxi province in 2013-14. We enrolled children aged 6-12 months in target villages. Each village/cluster was randomly assigned into one of three groups: Free Delivery Group (FDG; caregivers received free micronutrient packets); Text Messaging Group (TMG; FDG treatment plus daily text message); and Control Group. We collected information on compliance with treatments and hemoglobin concentrations from all children at baseline and 6-month follow-up. We estimated the intent-to-treat (ITT) effects on compliance and child anemia using a logistic regression model, controlling for infant, caregiver and household characteristics.
Results: There were 1393 eligible children. We found that assignment to TMG led to an increase full compliance (marginal effect = 0.10, 95% CI = 0.03, 0.16) and decrease in the rate of anemia at endline (marginal effect=-0.07, 95% CI= -0.12, -0.01).
Conclusions: Text messages improved compliance of caregivers to a home fortification program and children’s nutrition.