To determine the relationship between geophagy (mouthing of dirt, sand, clay, or mud) and growth faltering in young children.
We examined linear growth as height and weight standardized by age and sex, and weight standardized by height, in a cohort of children aged 6-36 months in rural Mirzapur, Bangladesh. We determined geophagy behavior at baseline through caregiver report. Anthropometric measurements were assessed at baseline and at a 1-year follow-up.
We found that among children not stunted at baseline, those with caregiver-reported geophagy at baseline grew less over 1 year compared with their peers, with a difference in the change of standardized height for age and sex of -0.31 (95% CI, -0.61 to -0.01).
These findings show that caregiver-reported geophagy was associated with growth faltering in a pediatric population in rural Bangladesh. Future studies are needed to learn more about this exposure pathway and its relevance to child growth.