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 when the children were ages 2½ and 4 years were interviewed at home and data were extracted from birth records. Children’s height at 4 years old was transformed into an age- and sex-adjusted z-score. A z-score under the 10th percentile of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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) when the children were 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 to 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 to 2.72), whereas 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 to 2.11).
Conclusion: In an industrialised country toddlers whose families experienced persistent lack of money for basic needs are more likely to have growth delay even after controlling for neonatal conditions and their mothers’ characteristics.
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Competing interests: None.