Abstract: Aim: To assess the predictors associated with infant length-for-age Z-score (LAZ) in the first year of life. This paper presents the relative contribution of maternal and child factors to child growth among children aged 6-12 months in an urban area of Northern Region of Ghana. Methods:This was a retrospective cohort study design in which systematic random sampling technique was used to select study participants, who sought post natal care services in selected hospitals within Tamale Metropolis. The association between LAZ and explanatory variables (maternal height, birth weight, infant and child feeding practices) was assessed using both bivariate and multiple linear regression analyses. Results: The mean age of the children was 8.6±1.9 months and 53.8 % were in the 6-8 months age group. The mean dietary diversity score (DDS) was 4.18±1.69 for children aged 6-12 months. Nearly 70.0 % of the children had adequate meal frequency, 73.0 % met the minimum dietary diversity (≥ 4 food groups) and 57.5 % of the children met the minimum acceptable diet. The greatest predictors of mean LAZ were maternal height, low birth weight (LBW), whether child is wasted or not and the consumption of specific foods groups by the child. A 1-unit increase in weight for length z-score (WLZ) was associated with 0.156 decrease in length for age z-score (LAZ) [beta = -0.156 (95% CI: -0.26, -0.03)] among infants 6 to 8 months of age after controlling for LBW and maternal height. Among children 9-12 months, a unit increase in weight for length z-score (WLZ) was associated with 0.182 decrease in length for age z-score (LAZ) [beta = -0.182 (95% CI: -0.32, -0.04)]. The nature and strength of association between LBW and mean LAZ was different according to the age group of the child. Among children aged 6-8 months, the mean LAZ of LBW children were significantly higher than that of children whose birth weight was normal. For children aged 9-12 months, LBW children had lower mean LAZ compared to children with birth weight of at least 2.5 kg (beta coefficient = -0.320, p < 0.001). Conclusion: In conclusion, the effect of birth weight and maternal height on LAZ depended on the age of the child. The data do suggest that between the ages of 6-8 months, LBW babies may be growing faster in length than non-LBW babies. However, from 9-12 months non-LBW babies grow faster than LBW babies.
Keywords: Child Growth, Maternal Height, Low Birth Weight, Intrauterine Growth Restriction, Northern Ghana
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