Socioeconomic Differences in Growth and Nutritional Status

Variations, both within and between populations, in body size at a given age and in the rate of maturation are partly genetic and partly environmental in origin. The most important determinants of birth weight and child growth—adequacy of the diet, quality of the environment, and access to health services—are also core elements of the standard of living. As a result, indices of child growth and birth weight have long been recognised as sensitive indicators of social inequality.

In most countries, women from poorer families produce infants of lower birth weight (with lower chances of survival) than do women from better-off families (Table 5). Some of this socio-economic

Table 5 Male birth weights in different socio-economic groups

Country/population

Mean birth weight

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