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Poverty and InequalitySexual and Reproductive HealthFamily, Maternal & Child HealthMethodology

Differences in early cognitive and receptive-expressive neurodevelopment by ancestry and underlying pathways in Brazil and Argentina

TitleDifferences in early cognitive and receptive-expressive neurodevelopment by ancestry and underlying pathways in Brazil and Argentina
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsWehby, GL, Trujillo, AJ
JournalInfant Behav Dev
Volume46
Pagination100-114
Date PublishedFeb
ISBN Number0163-6383
Accession Number28068525
KeywordsCognitive skills, Ethnic disparities, Health inequalities, Neurodevelopment, racial disparities, Receptive-expressive skills
Abstract

We examine disparities in early child cognitive and receptive-expressive skills by ethnic ancestry among infants aged 3-24 months from Brazil and Argentina. We employ unique data on the neurodevelopment of children who were seeking routine well-child care at a set of pediatric clinics in these countries. The sample included children who had normal birth outcomes and no major health complications, allowing us to focus on variation in neurodevelopment among children without major physical health limitations. The physicians attending the pediatric clinics were trained in administering the Bayley Infant Neurodevelopmental Screener, a standardized instrument used to screen an infant's risk of neurodevelopmental problems on various domains of abilities. We evaluate disparities in overall neurodevelopmental scores and risk for neurodevelopmental problems as well as in cognitive functioning and receptive-expressive neurodevelopment. We also examine the extent to which household demographic and socioeconomic characteristics and geographic location explain these disparities. We find large gaps in both cognitive and receptive-expressive neurodevelopment by ancestry. In Brazil, children of African ancestry have lower scores on both cognitive and receptive-expressive domains and on overall neurodevelopment than children of European ancestry. In Argentina, children of Native ancestry have lower scores on these outcomes than children of European ancestry. These gaps however are largely explained by differences in geographic location and household characteristics, highlighting the importance of policies that reduce socioeconomic and geographic disparities in social capital and economic development for eliminating ethnic disparities in infant neurodevelopment.