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High Altitudes Linked to Growth Delays

A study published in the British Medical Journal Nutrition, Prevention & Health found that kids living in India’s hills and mountains are more likely to have stunted growth, with the risk increasing with altitude. The study reviewed data from the 2015-16 National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4), which included nearly 165,000 children under the age of five.

The study found that the overall prevalence of stunting among these children was 36%, with rates greater among children aged 1.5 to 5 years (41%) than those under 1.5 years (27%). Stunting was shown to be more prevalent in children born third or later in the birth order, those who were little or very small at birth, and those residing at higher elevations.


There is a possibility that staying in high-altitude environments for an extended period of time can reduce hunger and hinder the absorption of oxygen and food. However, researchers have not found any direct cause-and-effect relationship yet.The study also discovered that food poverty is more widespread in mountainous locations due to poorer agricultural yields and harsher weather and that providing healthcare in these areas may be challenging.

The study found that children living at elevations of 2,000 meters or higher above sea level were 40% more likely to be stunted than those living below 1,000 meters.

Additionally, stunting was found in 44% of third-born or later children among siblings, compared to 30% in firstborns.

The study highlighted several protective factors against stunting, including the mother’s education level, post-pregnancy care such as clinic visits, vaccinations, and health supplements, and proximity to healthcare facilities. Belonging to a specific caste or indigenous tribe was associated with a lower risk of stunting.

To address these issues, the researchers recommend a multipronged approach combining reproductive health initiatives, women’s nutrition programs, infant and young child feeding interventions, and food security measures.

They stressed the importance of continued research, monitoring, and evaluation to guide evidence-based policies and ensure that every Indian child has the opportunity for healthy growth and development.

Source: Inputs from various media Sources

the aartery chronicles

Priya Bairagi

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