Growth indices, anemia, and diet independently predict motor milestone acquisition of infants in South Central Nepal

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Nutrition








Anemia; Growth; Infant; Motor milestones; Nepal


The acquisition of bipedal locomotion is an important aspect of gross motor development that ultimately affects the cognition of young children. Evidence for associations between nutrition-related variables and walking acquisition exist; however, questions remain about the importance of weight-for-length and dietary factors and the independent contribution of anemia and growth to walking. We examined the effect of nutritional factors on the acquisition of walking in a cross-sectional cohort of 4- to 17-mo old Nepali children (n = 485) adjusting for age, sex, caste, and socioeconomic status (SES). Participants were identified from census data collected in 1 village development committee in Sarlahi District and enrolled in a cross-sectional, community-based study between January and March 2002. Hemoglobin and erythrocyte protoporphyrin (EP) were measured at baseline using a heel-prick technique. The mean hemoglobin concentration was 101 ± 12.5 g/L; 58% were anemic (hemoglobin < 105 g/L), 2.1% were severely anemic (hemoglobin < 70 g/L), and 43% of the children had iron-deficiency anemia (hemoglobin < 105 g/L; EP ≥ 90 μmol/mol heme). Growth was delayed, i.e., 33.7% were stunted and 20.6% were wasted. Multivariate logistic models that controlled for age, sex, caste, and SES revealed that children with higher length-for-age and weight-for-length Z-scores, no anemia, and meat consumption walked at an earlier age than children with lower scores, anemia, and no meat consumption. We conclude that growth, anemia, and diet are independently associated with delays in the onset of bipedal locomotion among young Nepali children. © 2005 American Society for Nutrition.