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

George L. Wehby, Antonio J. Trujillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-114
Number of pages15
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Volume46
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017

Keywords

  • Cognitive skills
  • Ethnic disparities
  • Health inequalities
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Racial disparities
  • Receptive-expressive skills

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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