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Stunted at 10 Years. Linear Growth Trajectories and Stunting from Birth to Pre-Adolescence in a Rural Bangladeshi Cohort

posted on 02.03.2016, 07:40 by Pernilla Svefors, Anisur Rahman, Eva-Charlotte Ekström, Ashraful Islam Khan, Emma Lindström, Lars Åke Persson, Katarina Ekholm Selling


Few studies in low-income settings analyse linear growth trajectories from foetal life to pre-adolescence. The aim of this study is to describe linear growth and stunting from birth to 10 years in rural Bangladesh and to analyse whether maternal and environmental determinants at conception are associated with linear growth throughout childhood and stunting at 10 years.

Methods and Findings

Pregnant women participating in the MINIMat trial were identified in early pregnancy and a birth cohort (n = 1054) was followed with 19 growth measurements from birth to 10 years. Analyses of baseline predictors and mean height-for-age Z-scores (HAZ) over time were modelled using GLMM. Logistic regression analysis was used to investigate the associations between baseline predictors and stunting (HAZ<-2) at 10 years. HAZ decreased to 2 years, followed by an increase up to 10 years, while the average height-for-age difference in cm (HAD) to the WHO reference median continued to increase up to 10 years. Prevalence of stunting was highest at 2 years (50%) decreasing to 29% at 10 years. Maternal height, maternal educational level and season of conception were all independent predictors of HAZ from birth to pre-adolescence (p<0.001) and stunting at 10 years. The highest probability to be stunted at 10 years was for children born by short mothers (<147.5 cm) (ORadj 2.93, 95% CI: 2.06–4.20), mothers with no education (ORadj 1.74, 95% CI 1.17–2.81) or those conceived in the pre-monsoon season (ORadj 1.94, 95% CI 1.37–2.77).


Height growth trajectories and prevalence of stunting in pre-adolescence showed strong intergenerational associations, social differentials, and environmental influence from foetal life. Targeting women before and during pregnancy is needed for the prevention of impaired child growth.