Objectives: Sensory stimulation (SS) is a non-nutritional modifiable risk factor for early childhood development. We assessed SS in home environment and examined its influence on physical growth and psychomotor development (PD).
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in 26 communities in Pakistan among children aged <3 (n = 1,219). They were assessed at home visits using (1) Bayley's Infant Developmental Scale for PD, (2) home observation for measurement of the environment inventory for SS, (3) anthropometry and (4) socio-economic questionnaire.
Results: In rural homes, SS provided was lower as compared to urban counterparts (Adj mean diff: 4.47, 95 % CI 3.78, 5.16) and showed an association with stunting (Adj mean diff: -1.30, 95 % CI -1.93, -0.66), and underweight (Adj mean diff: -1.04, 95 % CI -1.71, -0.38) not explained by type of neighbourhood or socio-economic status. SS was associated with PD more than combined contribution of socio-economic status and rural-urban factors (Adj mean diff: 0.47, 95 % CI 0.30, 0.63).
Conclusions: SS in rural homes may be a significant factor influencing the child development. There is a need to corroborate these results by additional research for integration in health policy initiatives.