Harvard-led global study to look at stunted cognitive development

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A comprehensive global study of the educational and economic impact of stunted cognitive development due to childhood illnesses and other adversities has been launched by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), with colleagues from across Harvard and other partner institutions.

With an award from the “Saving Brains” program of Grand Challenges Canada, which is funded by the government of Canada, the researchers will use comprehensive data sources to develop comparable national, regional, and global estimates of the effects of major risk factors on childhood development, educational attainment, and the economic impact of those effects.

Risk factors to be studied include adverse health and nutrition during pregnancy, childhood infections and nutritional status, along with maternal depression and low education, which may result in inadequate child nurturing and stimulation. In addition to global and country-level analyses, more detailed examination will be done for two focus countries, Pakistan and Tanzania, where project collaborators have close ties and established working relationships.

Led by Wafaie Fawzi, professor and chair of HSPH’s Department of Global Health and Population and Majid Ezzati of Imperial College London, the project brings together a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, economists, epidemiologists, nutritional scientists, psychologists, disease and risk factor modelers, and statisticians.