Growth Faltering in the First Thousand Days after Conception and Catch-up Growth

TitleGrowth Faltering in the First Thousand Days after Conception and Catch-up Growth
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsBehrman, Jere R.
Secondary AuthorsKomlos, John, and Inas R. Kelly
Book TitleThe Oxford Handbook of Economics and Human Biology
PublisherOxford University Press
CityOxford, England
AbstractEarly-life growth faltering is widespread: approximately170 million children under 5 years old are stunted. Growth faltering in the first thousand days (FTD) after conception is associated negatively with educational, labor market, marriage market, adult health, and intergenerational outcomes. This chapter looks at pertinent questions: is FTD growth faltering immutable, or is catch-up growth possible? Do associations with important subsequent outcomes hold only for FTD nutritional status, or are there also associations of later nutritional status with such outcomes? Do associations between FTD nutritional status and life cycle outcomes imply causality? These questions and the assumptions underlying current analyses lead to a more nuanced understanding of FTD growth faltering suggesting that it is not immutable and that there are significant associations between nutritional status beyond 2 years with important outcomes such as cognitive status. Important underresearched issues remain, including persuasively identifying the causal effects of both FTD and subsequent nutritional status.