Month: September 2017

Ocansey awarded the Society for Research in Child Development Patrice L Engle dissertation grant for global early child development

The Patrice L. Engle Dissertation Grant provides support for students interested in a career in global early child development who are from or doing research in low- or middle-income countries. Eugenia Maku Ocansey was awarded this grant for her dissertation project “Assessing developmental outcomes at preschool age following three micronutrient supplementation strategies for pregnant and lactating women and their infants in Ghana.”

While adequate nutrition is necessary for the rapid brain development that occurs during gestation and the first 2 years of life (the first 1000 days), and many pregnant women and children across the globe are at risk for nutrient deficiencies during this period, few randomized controlled trials of nutritional supplementation during both pre- and post-natal periods have assessed long-term cognitive development. For her dissertation research, Ocansey is leading the developmental assessments in the pre-school follow-up study of the International Lipid-Based Nutrient Supplements (iLiNS) Project DYAD trial in Ghana, which provided lipid-based nutrient supplements to women during pregnancy and their children from six to 18 months. This project will enable the examination of long-term cognitive effects of supplementation with micronutrients, protein, and fatty acids during most of the first 1000 days.





Prado lead author on paper identifying six key factors that predict early child development

As countries mobilize to reach Sustainable Development Goal 4.2, to ensure “access to quality early childhood development” (ECD), evidence is needed to inform the design of interventions. Previous reviews have identified 44 risk factors for poor ECD in low- and middle-income countries. Which of these factors are most important for strategic targeting to maximize the likelihood of making a difference?

Prado and collaborators on the International Lipid-Based Nutrient Supplements (iLiNS) Project had a unique opportunity to answer this question in the most comprehensive dataset that has examined this question to date. In four cohorts totaling 4205 children in Malawi, Ghana, and Burkina Faso, data were available on 22 of the 44 risk factors identified in previous reviews, plus 12 additional factors likely to be associated with ECD.

Six factors were consistently associated with language and/or motor development at age 18 months in 3 or 4 cohorts: children’s variety of play materials, activities with caregivers, dietary diversity, linear and ponderal growth, and hemoglobin/iron status. These are likely to be key factors for targeted interventions to enhance child development. Among factors that were only measured in one or two cohorts, factors that were associated with language development were maternal cognition, 6-mo home stimulation, and frequency of child feeding, while factors that were associated with motor development were maternal health literacy, maternal and child basal cortisol, 18-mo inflammation, and 18-mo physical activity, suggesting that these are important factors for further research.

At age 18 months, children from low socio-economic status (SES) households had fallen behind those from higher-SES households in language development in all four cohorts and in motor development in two cohorts, highlighting the importance of child development interventions targeting this early period. Associations between SES and language development were largely mediated by caregiving practices rather than maternal or child bio-medical conditions, suggesting that interventions to reduce socioeconomic disparities in child development should target caregiving behavior.


Prado, E. L., Abbeddou, S., Adu-Afarwuah, S., Arimond, M., Ashorn, P., Ashorn, U., Bendabenda, J., Brown, K. H., Hess, S. Y., Kortekangas, E., Lartey, A., Maleta, K., Oaks, B., Ocansey, E., Okronipa, H., Ouédraogo, J. B., Pulakka, A., Somé, J., Stewart, C., Stewart, R., Vosti, S. A., Yakes Jimenez, E., Dewey, K. G. (2017). Predictors and pathways of language and motor development in four large prospective cohorts of young children in Ghana, Malawi, and Burkina Faso. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. (Epub ahead of print).

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