Nutritional catch-up patterns vary substantially across socioeconomic groups in Ethiopia, even small improvements in living standards can increase a child’s chances of catching up from stunting or malnutrition in the early years. In particular, investments in sanitation and water appear to have large payoffs. Services that improve the child’s environment have complementary (and possibly separate) impacts on nutritional intake in terms of ability to catch up from nutritional shocks at an early age, for example through reduced infections and illnesses.
Average catch-up growth in height-for-age is almost perfect among children in relatively better-off households, who are much less likely to be stunted at the age of five. On the contrary, among the poorer children, relative height is much more persistent, and they are more likely to remain stunted at five. The opportunity for influencing nutritional achievement is short; the window of opportunity to catch up appears to close as early as the age of five.
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