Flexible nonlinear estimates of the association between height and mental ability in early life

Authors

  • Jason E. Murasko

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Economics, University of Houston – Clear Lake, Houston, Texas
    • Correspondence to: J. E. Murasko, Department of Economics, University of Houston – Clear Lake, 2700 Bay Area Blvd, Houston, TX 77058. E-mail: muraskoj@uhcl.edu

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ABSTRACT

Objectives

To estimate associations between early-life mental ability and height/height-growth in contemporary US children.

Methods

Structured additive regression models are used to flexibly estimate the associations between height and mental ability at approximately 24 months of age. The sample is taken from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study–Birth Cohort, a national study whose target population was children born in the US during 2001.

Results

A nonlinear association is indicated between height and mental ability at approximately 24 months of age. There is an increasing association between height and mental ability below the mean value of height, but a flat association thereafter. Annualized growth shows the same nonlinear association to ability when controlling for baseline length at 9 months.

Conclusions

Restricted growth at lower values of the height distribution is associated with lower measured mental ability in contemporary US children during the first years of life. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 26:87–94, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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