High prevalence of child underweight and stunting in high-altitude areas has often been reported. However, most previous studies on this topic were cross-sectional. Another critical concern is that using the World Health Organization (WHO) Child Growth Standards to evaluate child growth in high-altitude areas may lead to overestimations of underweight and stunting. Our study aimed to evaluate the long-term growth pattern of children (3 to 18 years) above the altitude of 3500 m in Ladakh, India. The participants’ body weight (BW), body height (BH), and body mass index (BMI) were measured annually according to the WHO Child Growth Standards for children under 5 years old and the WHO reference data for children aged 5 to 19 years. The generalized estimating equation (GEE) was used to estimate the means and z
-scores of BW, BH, and BMI at different ages. A total of 401 children were enrolled from 2012 to 2018. Their mean z
-scores of BW, BH, and BMI were −1.47, −1.44, and −0.85 in 2012 and increased to −0.74, −0.92, and −0.63 in 2018. This population’s specific growth curve was also depicted, which generally fell below the 85th percentile of the WHO standards. This is the first cohort study about long-term child growth patterns in a high-altitude area. The detailed underlying mechanisms of our findings need future research on more representative data of high-altitude populations.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited