It is estimated that nearly half of all child deaths in sub-Saharan Africa are due to malnutrition. This is a staggering statistic, considering that malnutrition is largely preventable. A child’s linear growth is determined by a number of factors, including genetics, health, and nutrition. In sub-Saharan Africa, where poverty is rampant, many children do not have access to adequate nutrition, which can lead to stunted growth.
However, there are some children in sub-Saharan Africa who are able to overcome the odds and achieve normal growth. These “positive deviants” provide valuable insight into what factors contribute to normal growth in spite of poverty. A recent study set out to identify these positive deviants and to determine what factors contributed to their success.
The study found that the positive deviants were more likely to come from households with a higher socioeconomic status, to have access to clean water and sanitation, and to have received more vaccinations. In addition, the positive deviants were more likely to have been breastfed for a longer period of time and to have started complementary foods at an earlier age.
These findings suggest that poverty is not destiny when it comes to child growth in sub-Saharan Africa. With access to basic needs like clean water, sanitation, and vaccinations, as well as adequate nutrition, many children in the region can achieve normal growth.