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Nutrition, growth, and other factors associated with early cognitive and motor development in Sub-Saharan Africa: a scoping review

French, B; Outhwaite, LA; Langley-Evans, SC; Pitchford, NJ; (2020) Nutrition, growth, and other factors associated with early cognitive and motor development in Sub-Saharan Africa: a scoping review. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics , 33 (5) pp. 644-669. 10.1111/jhn.12795. Green open access

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Abstract

Background: Food insecurity, poverty and exposure to infectious disease are well‐established drivers of malnutrition in children in Sub‐Saharan Africa. Early development of cognitive and motor skills – the foundations for learning – may also be compromised by the same or additional factors that restrict physical growth. However, little is known about factors associated with early child development in this region, which limits the scope to intervene effectively. To address this knowledge gap, we compared studies that have examined factors associated with early cognitive and/or motor development within this population. / Methods: Predetermined criteria were used to examine four publication databases (PsycInfo, Embase, Web of Science and Medline) and identify studies considering the determinants of cognitive and motor development in children aged 0–8 years in Sub‐Saharan Africa. / Results: In total, 51 quantitative studies met the inclusion criteria, reporting on 30% of countries across the region. Within these papers, factors associated with early child development were grouped into five themes: Nutrition, Growth and Anthropometry, Maternal Health, Malaria and HIV, and Household. Food security and dietary diversity were associated with positive developmental outcomes, whereas exposure to HIV, malaria, poor maternal mental health, poor sanitation, maternal alcohol abuse and stunting were indicators of poor cognitive and motor development. / Discussion: In this synthesis of research findings obtained across Sub‐Saharan Africa, factors that restrict physical growth are also shown to hinder the development of early cognitive and motor skills, although additional factors also influence early developmental outcomes. The study also reviews the methodological limitations of conducting research using Western methods in sub‐Saharan Africa.

Type: Article
Title: Nutrition, growth, and other factors associated with early cognitive and motor development in Sub-Saharan Africa: a scoping review
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/jhn.12795
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/jhn.12795
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
Keywords: child health, cognitive development, early child development, growth, Sub-Saharan Africa
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Learning and Leadership
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Learning and Leadership > Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10102679
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