Cognitive and Physical Development in Infancy

Posted: September 5th, 2013

Cognitive and Physical Development in Infancy






Cognitive and Physical Development in Infancy

The increase in cases of maternal practices that contribute towards their children’s overall health and mental process including memory, attention and decision-making processes has come up as a challenge towards infancy development. In this paper, the different factors that promote strong cognitive development among Hispanic children are discussed. The prenatal differences among Hispanics and other races are also touched. The study had previously discovered a paradox among newborns of Hispanic descent. Their epidemiological studies revealed relatively stable birth outcomes among women of Hispanic origin.

This is against the backdrop of exposure to lower class physical, economic and social difficulties. The study, therefore, sought to examine the parental factors and maternal behavior that contribute towards the healthy Hispanic infants. The study also sought to compare the healthy birth outcomes between Hispanic mothers and other races in order to bring out the differences. These earlier studies revealed informative results. Among Hispanics, there was a relatively lower infant mortality rate of 5.4 deaths for every 1000 live births. The number of underweight infants born in 2001 among Hispanics was 6.5% of all births that were recorded in the community (Dacey, John & Travers, 2008).

Earlier studies on this topic came up with a term, “epidemiological paradox” which referred to the defiance by Hispanic infants in relation to the comparatively harsh environment in which most are born. In this study, the researchers set out to discover what the reason was behind the excellent physical and mental conditions among Hispanic infants (Berk, 2004). They focused on five sets of intervening factors: the mother’s knowledge of pre-natal care, pre-birth parenting norms, the mother’s cognitive abilities, the ethnic backgrounds and the mother’s acculturation level.

The method of selecting the participants for the study was done as follows. About 10700 households were visited between the years 2002 and 2003 by the staff members of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) who were in charge of the study. The criteria for selecting these households were drawn from a sample of hospital births earlier in 2001. The exact number of child cases that were used within all the households totaled to 8100 children with twins included. Children that did not reside with their biological mothers, deformed children and underage infants were excluded from the study sample (Fuller et al, 2010).

The measures that were used in the study focused on the children’s gestational ages with infants being ranked as either small for gestation age (SGA), large for gestational age (LGA)  or appropriate for gestational age (Fuller et al, 2010). The other measure was premature births. The study referred to the 5-minute Apgar physical assessment of reflex, heart rates and muscle tones which shown that most infants had similar characteristics across the different races. The infants’ cognitive proficiency was also to be put under two observational measures. The first measure was an inferior structure of the Bayley Scales that was used to measure infant development that would be used to test the infant’s use of words, actions with objects and abilities to solve problems (Lightfoot & Cole, 2009).

The second measure involved a derivation from a researcher assessment of infants’ attentiveness and contribution during the Bayley scale operations. The statistical analyses used in the study were logistic regression to estimate the likelihood of child health that is the SGA, LGA and pre-maturity. Weighted regression was applied to come up with continuous child outcomes. In order to ensure that proper evaluation of coefficients was done, the researchers used the svy suite commands found in the Stata College Station researches with the assumption that the sampling weights and clustering of families in sampling units was given (Fuller et al, 2010).

The results of this study were categorized in a similar way to the sets of intervening factors. This facilitated the easy understanding of each part of the results. In relation to the mother’s background and acculturation, it was discovered that infants were more likely to be healthier when delivered among more acculturated Hispanic women than any other group. By nine months, the infants of Hispanic descent weighed far more compared to white or black infants. The Bayley scale cognitive scores however yielded no significant differences among these infant subgroups.

In relation to the differences in the motherly practices and family unit characteristics, the results showed Hispanic mothers were slightly younger compared to the other mothers that reflected earlier child bearing. The results also showed lower drug consumption among acculturated Hispanic women during pregnancy (Fuller et al, 2010). In terms of contribution to cognitive development by mothers, Hispanic mothers scored the lowest in their interest and knowledge of toddler development. These Hispanic mothers did not award much praise for their children’s success in performing tasks neither did they respond quickly in times of infant’s distress calls (Levine & Munsch, 2011).

In explaining the paradox that was mentioned earlier, the results revealed that SGA likelihoods were more in white mothers who were more acculturated and had a higher rate of tobacco use. Hispanic women, on the other hand, were less acculturated, consumed diets that are more nutritious and supported healthy lifestyles leading to the birth and development of infants that had higher LGA’s. The results also accounted for the variation in cognitive proficiency by displaying the close relationship between the mother’s cognitive facilitation and the subsequent infants’ mental development. The Bayley Scale scores revealed that white mothers promoted more cognitive development in their infants than Hispanic mothers did (Fuller et al, 2010).























Berk, L. E. (2004). Development through the lifespan. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Dacey, John S, & Travers, J F. (2008). Human Development Across the Lifespan. McGraw-Hill Education.

Fuller, Bruce, Bein, Edward, Bridges, Margaret, Halfon, Neal, Jung, Sunyoung, Rabe-Hesketh, Sophia, & Kuo, Alice. (n.d.). (2010) Maternal practices that influence Hispanic infants’ health and cognitive growth. Maternal Practices That Influence Hispanic Infants’ Health and Cognitive Growth. Pedriatrics, 125 (2). Pp. 324-332. Issn 0031-4005.

Levine, L. E., & Munsch, J. (2011). Child development: An active learning approach. Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE.

Lightfoot, C., Cole, M., & Cole, S. (2009). The development of children. New York, NY: Worth Publishers.

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