Study Location: Spain
Type of Paper: Original Article; Prospective Longitudinal Study
Purpose: To assess catch-up growth in children one year after entering foster institutional care in Spain after being removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect.
- Physical growth: standard anthropometry [height, weight, head circumference (OFC)]. Z scores were calculated using normal regional standards.
Participants: 20 males who were between 30 and 42 months of age (average age: 36 months) when entering the institutional residential facility.
Methods: Standard anthropometry (physical growth) was collected at entry into the residential facility and then one year later.
Nutrition Results (Physical Growth):
- At entry into the residential facility, children were below the normal regional standards for height and weight, but not head circumference:
- Height for age (HAZ): -1. 29
- Weight for age (WAZ): -0. 75
- Head circumference for age (OFCZ): -0. 57
- One year after placement, there were no statistically significant differences for height and weight between the children in residential care and the normal regional standards. However, the z scores remained below zero:
- Height for age (HAZ): -0. 68
- Weight for age (WAZ): -0. 31
- The children living in the residential facility had a greater average annual growth velocity for height compared to the normal regional standards. Their growth velocity +1. 43 z scores.
Conclusions & Clinical Implications: Children entering institutional foster care in Spain following abuse and neglect show growth failure upon entry followed by catch-up growth during the first year. The authors discuss that height for age deficits are associated with chronic malnutrition. The institutional programs in Spain, which have improved in recent years, seem to have positive effects on physical growth in children who are removed from their family homes where they were experiencing abuse and neglect. The authors discuss that nutrition, environmental conditions, and emotional factors work together to affect physical growth in children under the age of 3, and that removal from the adverse family environments and into the residential foster care facility is beneficial for physical growth.
Limitations of the Nutritional Results: This study included a small number of participants (only 20) and only included males.
Reference: Oliván G. Catch-up growth assessment in long-term physically neglected and emotionally abused preschool age male children. Child Abuse & Neglect. 2003; 27 (1): 103-108. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12510033