Paternal education as important as maternal education in reducing childhood undernutrition: study

The study suggests that the potential for paternal education as a determinant of child health may have been understated in the past


The researchers analysed 180 demographic and health surveys from 62 low and middle income countries performed between 1990 and 2014.
The researchers analysed 180 demographic and health surveys from 62 low and middle income countries performed between 1990 and 2014.

New Delhi: A new study published on Tuesday shows that paternal education levels play an important role in lowering childhood undernutrition.

Earlier studies have established that maternal education levels are associated with lower childhood undernutrition.

Stunting is prevalent among 38.7% of India’s children aged under five, according to the Global Nutrition Report 2016, which ranked India 114 among 132 countries, where the country ranked 132nd had the highest prevalence of stunting.

The study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology was conducted by researchers from University of Gottingen, Germany, Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, United States, the Hospital for Sick Children, Global Child Health Centre, Canada and ETH, Switzerland. The researchers analysed 180 demographic and health surveys from 62 low and middle income countries performed between 1990 and 2014.

In their analysis of survey data from more than a million children and their parents, the researchers factored in household wealth to reduce its potential to distort the results. This caused the greater importance previously seen for mothers’ education to diminish, showing both sexes as equally significant.

“Our study suggests that the potential for paternal education as a determinant of child health may have been understated in the past,” said lead author Sebastian Vollmer, adjunct assistant professor of global health at Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. “Our hope is that our findings will spark a new debate on the way in which both maternal and paternal education can affect children’s nutritional status as well as their health in general,” he added in a Harvard news release.

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