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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 1020-4989

Abstract

AGRELO, Fernando; PASCUAL, Laura Rosa; LOBO, Beatriz  and  SABULSKY, Jacobo. Full adult height of women in Cordoba, Argentina, and an exploration of secular trends 1978­1988. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 1999, vol.5, n.1, pp. 17-22. ISSN 1020-4989.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49891999000100003.

The objective of this work was to contribute local data concerning the full adult height of women in Cordoba, Argentina, and to explore the possibility of a secular trend in their heights. For the study, 513 women were examined during May and June 1994. All of the women were between 18 and 40 years of age and were mothers of children who were included in a study on lactation, feeding, growth, and development in Córdoba. The measurements were carried out applying standardized techniques and using as a reference standard the 50th-percentile level data from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. The mean full height of the Córdoba population studied was 157.9 cm, 0.97 standard deviation (SD) below the reference norm. For the women from the highest of six socioeconomic strata, the mean height was 159.7 cm (­0.67 SD); the mean for women from the lowest stratum was 156.2 cm (­1.25 SD). The difference in the means of those two socioeconomic groups was statistically significant (P < 0.001). Of the population studied, 2.3% (6.4% of the lowest social stratum) were shorter than 145 cm. In order to explore the possibility of a secular trend, the resulting data were categorized into two groups according to the mother's age at the time of the anthropometric examination, one group with a mean age of 24 and a second group with a mean age of 34. The younger women had a mean adult height 0.4 cm greater than that of the older women (P = 0.47). This secular increase in height is notably smaller than that reported for other Argentine provinces (1.2 and 1.4 cm/decade) and somewhat lower than the average reported in population studies in Australia, Belgium, the United States, Japan, and Norway (0.6 cm/decade). The authors conclude that in the period analyzed, 1978­1988, the living conditions in the city of Córdoba have not improved in a way that is reflected in a significant increase in the height of adult women. The authors recommend that maternal health and nutrition programs concentrate their resources on the mothers from the lowest socioeconomic stratum who are shorter than 145 cm.

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