Objective: To examine the relationship between duration of lack of money for basic needs and growth delay in a birth cohort.
Methodology: Mothers of children (n=1929) from the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development (QLSCD) participating at ages 2½ and 4 years were interviewed at home and data were extracted from birth records. Height at 4 years old was transformed into an age- and sex-adjusted z-score. A z-score under 10th percentile of the CDC population growth curve was equated with growth delay. Lack of money for basic needs (paying for rent, electricity and/or heating, clothing, medications or other needs) at ages 2½ and 4 years was reported by the mother.
Results: Only 2.5% of children experienced two episodes of lack of money for basic needs. Logistic regression analyses showed that after adjusting for confounding variables, the probability of growth delay at 4 years among children whose families experienced two episodes of lack of money was higher than for their peers who had not lacked money (OR=3.43; 95% CI=1.54-7.66); experiencing lack of money only at 2½ years showed higher but not significant odds of growth delay at 4 years (OR=1.51; 95% CI=0.84-2.72) while the likelihood of growth delay was similar for children who experienced lack of money only at 4 years and for their counterparts who never lacked money (OR=0.74; 95% CI=0.26-2.11).
Conclusion: In an industrialised country toddlers whose families experienced persistent lack money for basic needs are more likely to have growth delay even after controlling for neonatal conditions and mother characteristics.