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Maternal and Child Nutrition

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Providing an enabling nurturing care environment for early childhood development (ECD) that cuts across the five domains of the Nurturing Care Framework (i.e., good health, adequate nutrition, opportunities for early learning, security and safety and responsive caregiving) has become a global priority. Brazil is home to approximately 18.5 million children under 5 years of age, of which 13% are at risk of poor development due to socio-economic inequalities. We explored whether the Early Childhood Friendly Municipal Index (IMAPI) can detect inequities in nurturing care ECD environments across the 5570 Brazilian municipalities. We examined the validity of the IMAPI scores and conducted descriptive analyses for assessing sociodemographic inequities by nurturing care domains and between and within regions. The strong correlations between school achievement (positive) and socially vulnerable children (negative) confirmed the IMAPI as a multidimensional nurturing care indicator. Low IMAPI scores were more frequent in the North (72.7%) and Northeast (63.3%) regions and in small (47.7%) and medium (43.3%) size municipalities. Conversely, high IMAPI scores were more frequent in the more prosperous South (52.9%) and Southeast (41.2%) regions and in metropolitan areas (41.2%). The security and safety domain had the lowest mean differences (MDs) among Brazilian regions (MD = 5) and population size (MD = 3). Between-region analyses confirmed inequities between the North/Northeast and South/Southeast. The biggest within-region inequity gaps were found in the Northeast (from −22 to 15) and the North (−21 to 19). The IMAPI distinguished the nurturing care ECD environments across Brazilian municipalities and can inform equitable and intersectoral multilevel decision making.


Brazil; Child development; Cities; Environmental indicator; Index; Monitoring; Nurturing care; Public health surveillance


Maternal and Child Health

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