Elaine Marieb College of Nursing Faculty Publication Series

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

American Journal of Human Biology


In many developing countries, poor women have multiple roles, and often their time constraints are so severe that their participation in income-generating activities results in reduced childcare time, which in turn affects child health. Previous studies have tended to investigate how childcare support influences nutrition of children with working mothers’ based on comparisons with non-working mothers. However, non-working mothers are not a homogeneous group, and we therefore need to distinguish between those who need not work and those who wish to but cannot, for example, due to a lack of substitute caregivers. We examined the association between availability of childcare support and the nutritional status of children of both non-working and working mothers in poor areas of Pokhara, a submetropolitan city in Nepal. We recruited 150 children of age 10–24 months from the waiting lists of 17 daycare centers and measured their weights and heights. Those with height-for-age and weight-for-age Z scores of less than 2 were defined as stunted and underweight, respectively. To collect information on childcare practices and socioeconomic characteristics, mothers were interviewed using a pre-tested structured questionnaire. Unavailability of adult childcare support was associated with increased risk of malnutrition among children of both non-working and working mothers. Peer childcare was not significantly associated with child malnutrition among children of nonworking mothers, but it was associated with an increased risk of malnutrition among children of working mothers. Although further longitudinal research is required, we suggest that childcare support from adult substitute caregivers is essential for children of non-working mothers with limited resources.