Introduction: Globally, an estimated 151 million children under 5 years of age still suffer from the adverse effects of stunting. We sought to develop and externally validate an early life predictive model that could be applied in infancy to accurately predict risk of stunting in preschool children. Methods: We conducted two separate prospective cohort studies in Vietnam that intensively monitored children from early pregnancy until 3 years of age. They included 1168 and 475 live-born infants for model development and validation, respectively. Logistic regression on child stunting at 3 years of age was performed for model development, and the predicted probabilities for stunting were used to evaluate the performance of this model in the validation data set. Results: Stunting prevalence was 16.9% (172 of 1015) in the development data set and 16.4% (70 of 426) in the validation data set. Key predictors included in the final model were paternal and maternal height, maternal weekly weight gain during pregnancy, infant sex, gestational age at birth, and infant weight and length at 6 months of age. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve in the validation data set was 0.85 (95% Confidence Interval, 0.80-0.90). Conclusion: This tool applied to infants at 6 months of age provided valid prediction of risk of stunting at 3 years of age using a readily available set of parental and infant measures. Further research is required to examine the impact of preventive measures introduced at 6 months of age on those identified as being at risk of growth faltering at 3 years of age.
- child health
- prevention strategies