Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

It is unclear whether early child development is, like skeletal growth, similar across diverse regions with adequate health and nutrition. We prospectively assessed 1307 healthy, well-nourished 2-year-old children of educated mothers, enrolled in early pregnancy from urban areas without major socioeconomic or environmental constraints, in Brazil, India, Italy, Kenya and UK. We used a specially developed psychometric tool, WHO motor milestones and visual tests. Similarities across sites were measured using variance components analysis and standardised site differences (SSD). In 14 of the 16 domains, the percentage of total variance explained by between-site differences ranged from 1.3% (cognitive score) to 9.2% (behaviour score). Of the 80 SSD comparisons, only six were >±0.50 units of the pooled SD for the corresponding item. The sequence and timing of attainment of neurodevelopmental milestones and associated behaviours in early childhood are, therefore, likely innate and universal, as long as nutritional and health needs are met.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Commun

Publication Date