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Maternal and Child Nutrition

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Selecting indicators to monitor nurturing care (NC) environments that support decision-making and guide the implementation of integrated early childhood development (ECD) programmes has become a priority globally. Several population-based approaches have been attempted to create a set of indicators or a composite index methodology to measure the NC environment using existing secondary data. However, they have not been systematized. Our scoping review aimed to analyse the population-based approaches for monitoring the domains of the NC (e.g. good health, adequate nutrition, responsive caregiving, security and safety, and opportunities for early learning). ECD experts, peer-reviewed, and grey literature were systematically searched with no year or language restrictions. Data extraction used a standard predefined protocol. Thirty-two population-based approaches were identified. Most approaches were composed of a set of indicators (53.1%, n = 17) versus composite indexes (46.9%, n = 15) and had the country as their unit of analysis (68.8%, n = 22). Twenty-seven approaches were applied in middle-income countries (84.4%) and thirteen in low-income countries (40.6%). Four approaches were guided by the NC framework (12.5%), and 56.3% (n = 18) did not include any indicator representing responsive caregiving. NC indicators (n = 867) were sorted into 100 groups of indicators. Twenty of the 32 approaches had some kind of methodological validation (62.5%). We identified six methodological challenges to build a population-based approach. Standardized methods for selecting and validating indicators, and coordinated efforts to share findings/data with stakeholders should be prioritized. Given the great variability in methods and indicators used to measure NC environments, valid approaches should be flexible to work well across different contexts.


Child; Child development; Environment; Index; Infant; Nurturing care; Public health surveillance


Cognition and Perception | Environmental Studies

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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