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Title of Paper: Plasticity of growth in height, weight, and head circumference: meta-analytic evidence of massive catch-up after international adoption.

Type of Paper: Meta-analysis (statistical analysis and review of data from existing studies)

Purpose: To review existing studies on physical growth in international adoptees and determine the delays at adoption, the degree of catch-up after adoption, and whether physical growth is similar for height, weight, and head circumference.

Nutrition-Related Measures:

Participants: A total of 33 studies were reviewed and analyzed. The number of children included in the physical growth outcomes ranged from 527 to 3753. Average age at adoption was 30 months for studies on height, 23 months for studies on weight, and 17 months for studies on head circumference.

Methods: Meta-analysis of studies that included physical growth measures of internationally adopted children.

Nutrition Results:

Conclusions & Clinical Implications: At adoption, there were large delays in all areas of physical growth (height, weight, and head circumference). Longer time spent in institutional care was associated with greater delays in height. There was significant catch-up following adoption; however, there were differences in plasticity. Catch-up in height and weight were nearly complete (i.e., similar height and weight to non-adopted peers); however, catch-up in head circumference was incomplete. Children who were adopted prior to 12 months of age had less severe height delays and better long-term outcomes in height. This finding emphasizes the importance of early intervention in these children.

Limitations of the Nutritional Results: No significant limitations.

Reference: van Ijzendoorn MH, Bakermans-Kranenburg MJ, Juffer F. Plasticity of growth in height, weight, and head circumference: meta-analytic evidence of massive catch-up after international adoption. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2007; 28 (4): 334-343. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17700087


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