A community-based group comparison study was conducted in two slums in Nagpur, India, to assess the effects of child labor on the growth of children. The subjects included a total of 233 child laborers aged between 8-15 years who were matched by age to an equal number of controls and pair-matched for gender. The mean weight of male child laborers and of controls increased from 23.8 (+or- 5.9) to 41.2 (+or- 9.7) kg and from 23.9 (+or- 4.8) to 44.4 (+or- 10.3) kg, respectively, while mean height increased from 121.5 (+or- 12.6) to 151.9 (+or- 10.6) cm and from 122.0 (+or- 8.4) to 154.8 (+or- 10.8) cm, respectively, for ages 8-15 years. The difference was statistically significant at older ages. Standard deviation scores for weight-for-age and height-for-age of male comparison subjects were significantly (P 0.01) closer to the National Centre for Health Statistics standard than were those of child laborers. Moreover, 80.7% of child laborers had below normal values for body mass index and most of them had significantly delayed genital development. Thus, it can be concluded that child labor has harmful effects on the growth of a child.
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