Aims: To determine whether current and postpartum maternal depression and low maternal intelligence are risk factors for malnutrition in children.
Methods: In rural South India 72 children with malnutrition were identified from a central register; 72 controls were matched for age, gender, and residence.
Results: Major depression in the postpartum period (OR 5.0, 95% CI 1.0 to 24.0), current major depression (OR 3.2, 95% CI 1.1 to 9.5), and low maternal intelligence (OR 3.8, 95% CI 1.3 to 11.1) were associated with malnutrition in the child. Low birth weight (OR 2.9, 95% CI 1.2 to 6.8) was also significantly associated with infant malnutrition. Conditional logistic regression adjusting for all other determinants yielded the following results: major depression during the postpartum period (OR 7.8; 95% CI 1.6 to 38.51), current major depression (OR 3.1; 95% CI 0.9 to 9.7), low maternal intelligence (OR 4.6; 95% CI 1.5 to 14.1), and low birth weight (OR 2.7; 95% CI 2.5 to 6.8). The interactions between current maternal depression and low birth weight and between postpartum depression and low maternal intelligence were statistically significant. The level of maternal intelligence was associated with nutritional status. The severity of malnutrition was also significantly associated with major depression during the postpartum period and low maternal intelligence.
Conclusion: There is evidence for an association between postpartum maternal depression, low maternal intelligence, and low birth weight with malnutrition in children aged 6–12 months.
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Funding: Research Grant No. 22F744 from the Christian Medical College, Vellore, India.
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