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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid