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Ann Hum Biol. 1993 Jul-Aug;20(4):381-7.

A path analysis of some determinants of infant growth in Khartoum.

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Institute of Biological Anthropology, University of Oxford.


The interrelationships between some socioeconomic and behavioural characteristics of mothers and the growth and illness experience of their infants in poor Khartoum townships have been examined by path analysis. For both infant body weight and supine length it is shown that weaning age and illness experience are important determinants of growth. It is also shown that greater maternal income has disadvantageous effects through encouraging early weaning. Most importantly the infants of housewives have later weaning, less illness and greater weight and length at 1 year of age than the infants of mothers with jobs, showing the value of time for caring in the prevailing environmental circumstances.


Path analysis was performed for infant weight and length among 96 mother-infant pairs in the study sample. The aim was to uncover causal connections between maternal income, maternal occupation, birth weight, weight at 2 months, weaning age, experience of illness from 3 to 12 months of age, and weight at 1 year. The sample was comprised of infants and mothers who were 18-30 years old, in the third trimester of pregnancy, and with 0-3 prior births. The results revealed little difference between the observed correlations and those predicted by the models. The weight model showed the expected strong positive path between birth weight and weight at 2 months and the negative path between illness experience and weight at 1 year. Late weaning appears to protect from illness and contributes to first year growth independently. Heavy infants tend to be weaned late. Heavy infants also have less illness independent of early weight gain. Infants of homemakers had higher birth weights, lower 2-month birth weights, greater 1-year birth weights, and less illness than the infants of paid working women. Homemaker status also affected weaning age. In the length model, illness affected length at 1 year, and weaning and length were not directly connected. Homemakers' infants were shorter at birth and at 2 months, but longer at 1 year than the infants of paid working women. The weight model was better at characterizing pathways and had better goodness of fit (x2 = 9.08, p 0.05). The greater health of at-home mothers in poor economic settings has important policy implications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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