A longitudinal study of the growth in height of boys and girls of West

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7, NO. 5,


A longitudinal study of the growth in height of boys and girls of West Bengal (India) aged six months to 20 years R. C. HAUSPIE

Ann Hum Biol Downloaded from informahealthcare.com by Univ De Santiago De Compostela on 03/28/11 For personal use only.

Belgian National Science Foundation, Laboratory of Anthropogenetics, Free University of Brussels

S. R. DAS Anthropological Survey of India, Calcutta

M. A. PREECE and J. M. TANNER Department of Growth and Development, Institute of Child Health, University of London

Received 1 January 1980; revised 28 April 1980

Summary, This study is the first Indian longitudinal growth survey from early childhood to maturity. The heights of 303 boys and 260 girls, from middle-class families in a semi-urban area south of Calcutta, were measured at regular intervals over periods of up to 14 years (between 1952 and 1966). The data were analysed using appropriate mixed longitudinal and curvefitting techniques. Growth in height of these middle-class Bengali children, who are not a representative sample of the Indian population, is slightly above the national Indian Council of Medical Research Standards. In both sexes, mean heights are below the lOth centile line of the British standards from an early age onwards, mainly due to a smaller prepubertal growth. The adolescent growth spurt in the Indians is similar to that seen in British children, as is the age at which it occurs (peak height velocity at 14.0years in boys, 12.5years in girls). The sex difference of 14.0cm in adult stature is attributable to a greater adolescent gain in the boys of 6-0cm, a greater height in boys at the girls' age at take-off of 3.3 cm and a gain in height by the boys of 4.7cm between the girls' and boys' ages at take-off.



A l t h o u g h there have been a c o n s i d e r a b l e n u m b e r o f studies of the g r o w t h of I n d i a n children over the last 20 years, few have been l o n g i t u d i n a l in n a t u r e a n d n o n e has c o v e r e d the full age p e r i o d from e a d y infancy to a d u l t h o o d . K a u l (1975) studied a mixed l o n g i t u d i n a l s a m p l e of K a s h m i r i P a n d i t (Hindu) boys of school-age a n d Seth, G h a i a n d S u g a t h a n (1972) a n d V i j a y a r a g h a v a n , Sastry a n d Jindall (1974) r e p o r t e d o b s e r v a t i o n s on the s a m e subjects t a k e n on two occasions only, a p p r o x i m a t e l y one y e a r a p a r t in the case of Seth a n d four years in V i j a y a r a g h a v a n a n d colleagues. T h e present s a m p l e is unique a m o n g I n d i a n d a t a in t h a t it consists o f siblings in 214 families, m o s t o f w h o m have been followed for at least 5 years a n d s o m e for 14 years. T h e a v e r a g e p e r i o d of o b s e r v a t i o n is 7.5 years for boys a n d 7.1 years for girls. It is a l m o s t unique also in that all the m e a s u r e m e n t s have been t a k e n by a single m e a s u r e r , s o m e t h i n g previously achieved only in the H a r p e n d e n G r o w t h Study, to the results of which we c o m p a r e it. T w o forms of analysis have been used: the P a t t e r s o n m e t h o d for mixed l o n g i t u d i n a l d a t a leading to estimates of height a n d height velocity at each age and, in a subsample, the fitting of the P r e e c e - B a i n e s m o d e l 1 curve to i n d i v i d u a l l o n g i t u d i n a l values. 0301 4460:80/07050429S02'00 I 19g0Taylor&Francis Ltd

R.C. Hauspie et al.


Ann Hum Biol Downloaded from informahealthcare.com by Univ De Santiago De Compostela on 03/28/11 For personal use only.

2. Subjects and methods The study was conducted over a period of 14 years, from 1952 to 1966 in two Bengali villages, Sarsuna and Barisha. These two contiguous villages are situated in a semi-urban area, within the South Suburban Municipality of Calcutta, at a distance of about 16 km from the heart of the city. The dominant population in this area in 1952 belonged to the Rarhi Brahman, Dakshin Rarhi Kayastha and Vaidya subcastes, which occupy the highest rungs of the Bengali Hindu caste hierarchy in West Bengal. Of the sample, 64To came from the first of these subcastes, 27% from the second and 9% from the third, tn spite of differences between families due to income variations, they possessed a remarkable degree of homogeneity in respect of food habits (they are not vegetarian), hygienic sense, and ways of bringing up children. They also did not reveal any appreciable genetic heterogeneity in respect .of the distributions of various blood group genes, or serum proteins, red cell enzymes and haemoglobins (S. R. Das, unpublished data). For these reasons, all three classes have been pooled together in the present analysis. All subjects belonged to educated, middle-class families, who had lived in the area for a number of generations. The mother's education status varied from primary to graduate level and their occupation was primarily their own housekeeping. The fathers' education status varied from school final to the graduate level with postgraduate level in a few cases. Their occupations were i n diverse areas: administrative, secretarial, technical, scientific services in industrial, commercial, governmental and public bodies. Some were engaged in teaching in schools and undergraduate colleges. There were 303 boys and 260 girls, covering the age range 0"5 to 20 years. These 563 subjects belonged to 214 families; the frequency distribution of numbers in the sibships are shown in table 1. Each child had a brief medical examination on each measurement occasion and any with obvious illness or defect was omitted from the record. Twentytwo anthropometric measurements were taken at six-monthly intervals up to the age of five years, yearly from five to ten, six-monthly from 10 to 14 and yearly thereafter. Only Table 1. Frequenciesof families with differentnumbers of children. Number of sibs in family Number



















height will be presented in the present paper. All children were measured between 0700 and 0900 hours and all measurements, without exception, were taken by one measurer (S.R.D.) throughout the entire period of the study. Standard anthropometric instruments were used with the techniques described by Martin (1928). For children below 2-3 years the measurement of stature was substituted by the supine length from crown to heel, made on a special child-measuring board. The true ages of the children were known in all cases as only families having authentic birth records were included in the study; these records included family horoscopes, notebooks and birth certificates. Target dates for measurements were the birthdays or half-birthdays, and children were usually measured within 15 days of the target. Over the whole material, attendance averaged six days late in boys and 7 days late in girls, and the standard deviation of the difference between observational age and target age was about 14 days in both sexes. Table 2 shows the number of children present in the survey for different lengths of time. Table 3 shows the frequency distribution of the number of measurement occasions per child.

Growth in height of West Bengali children


Table 2. Number of children present in the study for different lengths of time (years). Period