LivingBabies born in high altitude areas are smaller and...

Babies born in high altitude areas are smaller and grow slower, a worldwide study reveals

Children born more than 1,500 meters above sea level are typically smaller at birth and more likely to be stunted than those born at lower elevations, according to new global research published in Jama Pediatrics.

The results are the same, even if the newborns belong to what we could call an “ideal home” , with good medical coverage, a high economic level and mothers with studies. Therefore, the researchers note that this means that “stunting is unlikely to be due to common risk factors in childhood growth, such as poor diet and disease.”

In addition, there is also data that pregnancy at these altitudes is at higher risk.

The higher the altitude, the lower the child’s growth

The study makes it clear: children living in “ideal homes” grow at a rate considered normal by the World Health Organization until they move to an area located about 500 meters above sea level. From that altitude, his height-for-age percentile begins to decrease.

In addition, according to the results of the research, at levels of 1,500 meters above sea level, children “are born with less height and have a slower growth rate up to five years” than minors who lived in cities with levels of sea lower.

As Kalle Hirvonen, a fellow at The International Food Policy Research Institute and one of the study’s authors, explains, “More than 800 million people live at 1,500 meters above sea level or higher. , and two-thirds of them in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. “

But there are many cities in the rest of the world above 1,500 meters above sea level. Thus, this international study studied 964,299 children in 59 low- and middle-income countries in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Among them, 106,441 lived above an altitude of 1,500 meters.

The interest of the research was to discover if altitude conditions the development of children, since some previous ones had shown that being smaller and having a slower growth can lead to a greater risk of cognitive deficits and problems in development metabolic disorders linked to chronic diseases throughout life. And it seems to have been proven.

Higher risk pregnancies

The study determined that the greatest risk occurred in the period before and immediately after birth and that it could be due to the decrease in oxygen levels at higher altitudes.

“High altitude pregnancies are characterized by chronic hypoxia, or inadequate oxygen supply, which is consistently associated with an increased risk of slower fetal growth.”

This is pointed out by Hirvonen, who adds that genetic adaptation to reside at high altitudes for several generations is believed to be able to mitigate stunting:

“After birth, the growth curve of children in areas 1,500 meters or more above sea level was consistently lower, implying a limited recovery in growth levels of children residing in areas less than 1,500 meters “.

The results should encourage clinicians to work more closely with pregnant women to monitor the effects of height on the fetus, the study authors noted, because:

“A first step is to unravel the complex relationship that links altitude, hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and fetal growth to identify how to act effectively.”

Via | CNN

Photos | iStock

In Babies and More | How and how much do children grow? The four stages of growth, When the baby suffers from a lack of oxygen at the time of delivery: causes, consequences and solutions

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