Background and study aims
Studies have shown that children growing up in poor, rural Chinese regions during the first years of life are at high risk of developmental delays. Given that approximately half of all Chinese infants in China are currently growing up in rural regions, a large share of all Chinese children are currently at risk of missing out on their full developmental potential.
These early delays have been linked to poor parenting practices. First, studies found that the average engagement of caregivers in interactive caregiver-child activities in rural China was low. For example, only 11 percent of parents reported that they told a story to the child on the day before. Second, common problematic feeding practices, such as feeding the child a diet with a low nutrient density, have also been linked to poor child development. Third, early development may be hampered by lacking health promoting behaviours of caregivers, for instance, late initiation of toothbrushing.
Earlier intervention studies in rural China have convincingly shown that parenting training programs focusing on caregiver-child interaction can effectively reduce the emergence of early cognitive delays. This study aims to assess whether a parenting program combining training on child psychosocial stimulation with information on child nutrition and health promotion can adjust problematic parenting skills and practices and improve early child development, health, nutrition, and physical growth outcomes.
Who can participate?
All 6-18 month olds that are living in the selected villages in rural Hebei Province and Yunnan Province, China at the start of the study, with their main caregivers
What does the study involve?
Participating villages are randomly assigned to intervention and control. All 6-18 month olds and their main caregivers living in villages assigned to intervention are selected to participate in a parenting program. Those in the control group will receive no intervention. Caregivers and children in the intervention group were invited to participate in biweekly parenting training sessions delivered at home by a community health worker. Caregivers are taught how to interact with their children in ways that can improve their cognition, language, motor, and social-emotional development. Caregivers also receive information on feeding practices (e.g. breastfeeding) and health promoting parenting practices (e.g. tooth brushing). Data collected for the study include measures of child development, health, nutrition, and growth, as well as measures of caregivers' knowledge on and behaviour towards best parenting and feeding practices. The study takes place over 31 months.
What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
This study is expected to benefit children whose main caregivers participate in the intervention study. Child early development, health, nutrition, and physical growth status may improve in response to more stimulating home learning environments, better feeding practices and health promotion. It is also hoped that caregivers may apply taught parenting skills and practices to improve developmental outcomes of other children living in the household and neighbourhood. Moreover, this curriculum may be scalable if proven successful.
There are no known risks to participants taking part in this study.
Where is the study run from?
Centre for Chinese Agricultural Policy (CCAP), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) (China)
When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
June 2015 to December 2017
Who is funding the study?
Save the Children Hong Kong (China)
Who is the main contact?
Prof. Dr. Renfu Luo [email protected]