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Lawrence Haddad's review of sanitation and stunting research

Blog Post1 min read

Lawrence Haddad of the Institute of Development Studies has been kind enough to review rice's recent paper on the international link between sanitation and stunting on his blog Development Horizons.

He makes several interesting points, including, quite correctly, that the first version of the paper didn't do enough to rule out that the effect is really caused by differences in food and feeding practices, especially breastfeeding practices, which the DHS does have information on. This is important because India has short children, much open defecation, and bad breastfeeding norms all at the same time. A slighly updated version of the paper now shows that breastfeeding is not what is responsible for these particular statistical results, although it certainly is important.

It is also certainly true that low women's status within India is bad for children's health and growth. Some of my current research with Diane Coffey and Reetika Khera examines this looking at Indian joint families. Open defecation does not explain all differences in child height, but it does explain an important part.

Thanks much to Lawrence Haddad for these helpful comments. I would love to hear what you, our readers, think about the paper!

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r.i.c.e. is a non-profit research organization focused on health and well-being in India. Our core focus is on children in rural north India. Our research studies health care at the start of life, sanitation, air pollution, maternal health, social inequality, and other dimensions of population-level social wellbeing.

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