Association between maternal education and infant diarrhea in different household and community environments of Cebu, Philippines.
Maternal education is one of the strongest determinants of infant survival in developing countries, however, questions remain regarding the extent to which its effects vary as a function of contextual variables. In this study, a multi-level interactive model is used to assess whether the protective effect of maternal education on the risk of infant diarrhea is modified by three aspects of the mother's familial and community environment: household assets, community economic resources and the availability of mothers' clubs. 2484 study participants were interviewed in 1984 as part of the Cebu Longitudinal Infant Health and Nutrition Study. The findings suggest that the protective effect of maternal education on infant diarrhea varies according to the socio-economic environment in which the mother lives: maternal education protects against infant diarrhea in the more economically and socially advantaged communities but has no effect in the more disadvantaged communities. The results also indicate that the protective effect of maternal education is smaller in the wealthier households. These data suggest that improvement in maternal education level, alone, may not always have the expected beneficial effects on infant health. Corollary measures to improve access of mothers and children to basic community resources and efforts to help mothers be more effective in their various social roles may be necessary preconditions for higher levels of maternal education to result in improved infant health.
Dargent-Molina, P; James, SA; Strogatz, DS; Savitz, DA
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