Early Childhood Development Publications
The Relationship Between Birth Season and Early Childhood Development: Evidence from Northwest Rural China
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).
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.
Nearly a quarter of all children under the age of two in China are left behind in the countryside as parents migrate to urban areas for work. We use a longitudinal survey following young children and their caregivers from 6 to 30 months of age to estimate the effects of maternal migration on development, health, and nutritional outcomes in the critical first stages of life.We find significant negative effects on cognitive development and indicators of dietary quality.
The first years of life comprise a critical period for social-emotional development that has implications for lifelong outcomes. One factor that is thought to impact infant socialemotional development is parenting behavior and practices, such as reading to, singing to, and playing with their child. In this study we examine the situation of parenting practices and infant social-emotional development among a sample of 1,350 infants aged 18-30 months in rural Shaanxi Province, China.
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.
Effects of Parental Migration on Mental Health of Left-Behind Children: Evidence from Northwestern China
China’s rapid development and urbanization has induced large numbers of rural residents to migrate from their homes in the countryside to urban areas in search of higher wages. It is estimated that there are more than 60 million left behind children (LBCs) remain in the countryside after their parents migrate. This paper examines the changes in mental health before and after the parents of fourth and fifth grade students out- or return-migrate. We draw on a panel dataset collected by the authors of more than 19,000 students from 252 rural primary schools in northwestern China. Using difference-in-difference and propensity score matching approaches, our results indicate that parental out-migration has a significant negative impact on the mental health of LBCs, as they tend to exhibit higher levels of anxiety and lower levels of self-esteem. However, we find that parental return-migration has no significant effect on the mental health of LBCs.
Nutritional Deficiencies, the Absence of Information and Caregiver Failures: A Qualitative Analysis of Infant Feeding Practices in Rural China
Development during the first two years of life is critical and has a lasting impact on a child’s health. Poor child nutrition can lead to a weakened immune system and deficiencies in essential micronutrients, which in turn have lasting and detrimental impacts on a child’s development. Recent studies in rural Shaanxi Province found an anemia prevalence of 54.3% among rural children aged six to twelve months. While new large-scale, quantitative research has begun to catalogue the extent of child malnutrition and anemia, no effort has yet been made to look more closely at the potential reasons for rural children’s nutritional deficiencies through a more richly textured qualitative analysis. This study aims to elucidate some of the fundamental causes of poor feeding practices that may lead to anemia among children in rural Shaanxi Province, China.
Micronutrient Deficiencies and Developmental Delays in Infants: Evidence from a cross-sectional survey in rural China
Research increasingly indicates the importance of the nutritional programming that occurs in the first 2–3 years of life. Quality nutrition during this brief window has been shown to have large and significant effects on health and development throughout childhood and even into adulthood. Despite the widespread understanding of this critical window, and the long-term consequences of leaving nutritional deficiencies unaddressed, little is known about the status of infant nutrition in rural China, or about the relationship between infant nutrition and cognitive development in rural China.
Anemia is one of the most prevalent public health problems among infants and iron deficiency anemia has been related to many adverse consequences. The overall goal of this study is to examine the prevalence of anemia among infants in poor rural China and to identify correlates of anemia. In April 2013, we randomly sampled 948 infants aged 6–11 months living in 351 villages across 174 townships in nationally-designated poverty counties in rural areas of southern Shaanxi Province, China. Infants were administered a finger prick blood test for hemoglobin (Hb). Anthropometric measurement and household survey of demographic characteristics and feeding practices were conducted in the survey. We found that 54.3% of 6–11 month old infants in poor rural China are anemic, and 24.3% of sample infants suffer from moderate or severe anemia. We find that children still breastfed over 6 months of age had lower Hb concentrations and higher anemia prevalence than their non-breastfeeding counterparts (p < 0.01), and that children who had ever been formula-fed had significantly higher Hb concentrations and lower anemia prevalence than their non-formula-fed counterparts (p < 0.01). The results suggest the importance of iron supplementation or home fortification while breastfeeding.