Study: Illness in Home Affects Girls’ School Attendance - Diverse Health

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Study: Illness in Home Affects Girls’ School Attendance

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by Jonathan D. Klein

In this month’s Pediatrics, Aslan et al1 address one of the factors contributing to inequities in education for girls in low- and middle-income countries. By using data from 38 countries’ demographic and health surveys, they analyze the differential impact of childhood illness and maternal work outside of the home on school attendance for adolescent boys and girls in households. Over one-third of houses sampled had children who were not in school, and more than half had a child <5 years with an illness in the past 2 weeks. Presumably because girls and women are more often required to take on traditional child-caretaking roles, the authors demonstrate a small but significant effect on girls’ education, worse with increasing poverty and maternal illiteracy. A 5.1% disparity for school attendance by gender in households without ill children increased with one or more illness to 7.8% and 8.5%, respectively. Similarly, when mothers worked outside the home, the gender was 6.1% with no illnesses, and rose to 8.7% and 10.6% with one or more than one episodes of illness in children <5 years of age.

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