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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


SEGALL-CORREA, Ana Maria et al. Factors determining weight and height in children aged 3 months to 6 years enrolled in a public municipal day-care center in Brazil. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2002, vol.12, n.1, pp.19-25. ISSN 1680-5348.

Objective. To assess factors determining growth in a group of children between 3 months and 6 years old enrolled in a public municipal (i.e., government-supported, not private) day-care center, in comparison to a group of children with similar characteristics but who were not enrolled in the center. Methods. A quasi-experimental study was designed to observe 444 children aged 3 to 72 months from a low-income neighborhood in the city of Sorocaba, in the state of São Paulo, Brazil. Two groups were studied: 164 children enrolled in a local municipal day-care center (intervention group) and 280 not receiving care at the center (nonintervention, comparison group) but instead being cared for at home. Both groups were seen four times over a period of 16 months. At each observation session, the children's weight and height were measured. Information was also collected on the mother's sociodemographic characteristics and the illnesses she had suffered as well as the child's weight and other health characteristics at birth, the child's illnesses in the 15 days before each observation, and any hospitalizations. Results. The children in both groups were from low-income families, with 65% of the families having an average monthly income below US$ 100; 80% of the mothers had received 8 years of schooling or less. Multivariate linear regression analysis showed that at the first observation (just before enrollment in the day-care center), birth weight was the only factor that explained the nutritional differences between the two groups. Subsequent analyses showed that being in day care was the factor that best explained the differences between the groups, especially in terms of the adequacy of weight for age, after controlling for birthweight, sex, age at the beginning of the study, and illnesses in the 15 days before an observation session. The nutritional impact of the intervention was significant as early as 3 months after being enrolled in day care. Conclusions. The nutritional benefits of the care provided at the center outweighed the negative effects sometimes seen in such centers, such as the greater morbidity that children in day-care centers often experience in comparison to children receiving care at home.

Keywords : Nutrição infantil; crescimento infantil; peso; altura; Brasil.

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