Secular trends in growth of preschool children from rural Maharashtra, India

Secular trends in growth of preschool children from rural Maharashtra, India

Positive secular trends in body dimensions and growth rate have been apparent all over the world in both genders during the last century. The extent of secular changes has, however, varied during different periods in different populations and in intensity. Most important factors to influence secular growth changes are improvements in environment, food availability, and elimination of chronic hunger.

Physical growth in children is one of the best indicators of overall health and well-being of a population. Secular changes in child growth are of primary importance in determining the impact of general social and economic changes and specific public-health interventions. Preschool age being a period for rapid growth would be ideal for observing secular changes. Moreover, it is a sensitive period as growth retardation during early period of life is known to affect the growth significantly during adolescence and the final size at adulthood.

India has progressed on several fronts and is believed to pass through a nutritional transition too. For example, government data reveal the changes in macro- and micro-level indicators during the 20 years period from 1981 to 2001. In the light of these developments, the study aims to examine the secular changes in growth of preschool children during 1985 and 2001.

Some of the findings the study makes are:

  • although economic conditions have improved, the environmental conditions such as lack of hygiene and sanitation continue to remain poor
  • if these trends continue, excessive weight in rural children experiencing stunting in early life may increase health risks in their adulthood

Therefore, investments in human resource development are necessary for achieving long-term health benefits for Indian population.

  1. How good is this research?

    Assessing the quality of research can be a tricky business. This blog from our editor offers some tools and tips.