Association of maternal height and body mass index with nutrition of children under 5 years of age in India: Evidence from Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey 2016–18

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Background and Objectives: Child undernutrition remains an area of public health concern across the globe, particularly in developing countries like India. Previous studies have focused on the association of maternal nutrition with premature pregnancy and birthweight of child, with few establishing the intergenerational effect but limited to select populations and geography. Methods and Study Design: This study used data from 35,452 children aged under 5 years and their biological mother from nationally representative Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS) in India. The outcome variables were anthropometric indices: height-for-age, weight-for-height, and weight-for-age. The exposure variables were maternal height and body mass index (BMI). Multivariate regression analysis was used to examine the association between maternal height and BMI with child undernutrition. Results: Out of total number of mothers, 11.1% were short in stature and 28% were underweight. Of total number of children, 33.9%, 17.3% and 32.7% were stunted, wasted, and underweight respectively. Children born to mother with short stature were more likely to be stunted (OR=1.73, 95% CI 1.59-1.89), wasted (OR=1.26, 95% CI 1.12-1.41) and underweight (OR=1.64, 95% CI 1.50-1.79). Similarly, children with underweight mother were more likely to be stunted (OR=1.63, 95% CI 1.53-1.73), wasted (OR=1.64, 95% CI 1.52-1.77) and underweight (OR=2.14, 95% CI 2.01-2.27). Conclusions: The study shows a strong association between maternal and child undernutrition demonstrating intergenerational linkage between the two. The national programme needs to focus on holistic and comprehensive nutrition strategy with targeted interventions to improve both maternal and child health.