Nutritional, Socioeconomic, and Delivery Characteristics Are Associated with Neurodevelopment in Tanzanian Children

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Pediatrics






Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, 3rd edition; BSID-III; early childhood development; prospective cohort


© 2018 Elsevier Inc. Objectives: To evaluate the hypothesis that various maternal, socioeconomic, delivery, and infant nutritional characteristics are associated with early childhood development in young Tanzanian children. Study design: We performed a prospective cohort study among 206 HIV-exposed, uninfected and 247 HIV-unexposed Tanzanian infants who had been enrolled in 2 separate micronutrient trials (NCT00197730 and NCT00421668). Trained nurses administered culturally modified Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, 3rd edition (BSID-III), to evaluate cognitive, motor, and language development at 15 months of age. This analysis explored predictors of BSID-III z-scores using multivariable linear regression. Results: Among maternal determinants, we found that low maternal height predicted all BSID-III domains in HIV-unexposed children; low maternal education predicted lower cognitive (standardized mean difference, -0.41; 95% CI, -0.74 to -0.08) and lower gross motor scores (standardized mean difference, -0.32; 95% CI, -0.61 to -0.04) in HIV-exposed children. Among delivery characteristics, facility delivery predicted higher cognitive scores (standardized mean difference, 1.36; 95% CI, 0.26-2.46); and oxytocin administration predicted lower fine motor scores (standardized mean difference, -0.48; 95% CI, -0.87 to -0.09) in HIV-exposed children. Higher length-for-age z-scores at 6 weeks of age predicted better cognitive (standardized mean difference, 0.15; 95% CI, 0.01-0.29) and expressive language scores (standardized mean difference, 0.16; 95% CI, 0.02-0.29) at 15 months in HIV-exposed infants. Conclusions: This hypothesis-generating study found significant associations between nutritional status and health of the mother and child, and maternal educational attainment, with direct measures of early childhood development at 15 months of age. In addition, several aspects of delivery (facility birth and oxytocin administration) were associated with early childhood development. Future intervention trials should focus on modifiable maternal, infant, and obstetric factors to strengthen the evidence base concerning early childhood development. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00197730 and NCT00421668.