News / Health

Children of Child Marriages More Likely to be Malnourished

Indian study of 20,000 babies concludes many born to young mothers suffer health consequences

Multimedia

Audio
Art Chimes

Child marriage has been outlawed in India for years. Women cannot legally marry before they reach the age of 18. Yet the practice persists, particularly in poor, rural communities. And the children of these marriages often pay a terrible price.

Dr. Anita Raj of Boston University has been studying the impact of child marriage.

In a paper published early last year, she found that girls who married before age 18 were more likely to have unwanted pregnancies.

In her newest research, Raj describes a link between child marriage and malnutrition among the babies born to these young women.

Study's analysis reveals 'the malnutrition effect'


"Those mothers who marry younger were significantly more likely to have low birth weight infants, to have infant and child mortality and to have infant and child malnutrition," she says.

Some of those differences were statistically attributed to factors like poverty and education. That still left a high incidence of low weight and other signs of poor nutrition.

"Even if you control for the fact that women married as minors are more likely to have no formal education, are more likely to live in a rural context, are more likely to be living in abject poverty," Raj stresses, "you still see the malnutrition effect."

For her study, Raj and her colleagues used data from an Indian government survey. They analyzed information related to some 20,000 babies, most of them born to women who were under 18 when they got married.

A competition for nutrition may play a role

Although her research doesn't explain what's causing the malnutrition among babies born to these very young mothers, Raj says it may be due in part to the fact that both the baby and mother are still growing, and are, in a sense, competing for scarce nutritional resources.

"Then, whatever she's taking in, there's going to be sort of a fight. And we think that sometimes that's going to cause health problems for the mother, and sometimes it's going to cause health problems for the baby. Either way, it's not a good health situation," Raj says.

Raj, an Indian-American herself, says she recognizes that child marriage is a longstanding cultural tradition in rural India. But she says it's associated with too many negatives, both for mother and child.

"It's sort of an inadequate justification for the continuation of the practice. Also, adolescent marriage does not necessarily mean adolescent pregnancy or childbirth. But it is happening because of the lack of support young girls have in terms of their knowledge and their access to [family planning] programs [and]in terms of their ability to negotiate what they want for their own bodies."

Raj's paper appears in the British Medical Journal.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid