Title of Paper: Children in foster care: are they at nutritional risk?
Study Location: Oakland, California, USA
Type of Paper: Original Article; Pilot Study
Purpose: To assess the health and nutritional needs of children living in foster care.
- Medical chart review:
- Birth history: gestational age
- Physical growth: standard anthropometry [height, weight, head circumference (OFC)]. The method used to calculate z scores was not described.
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Dietary data: 24-hour dietary recall completed by the foster parents.
Participants: Participants included two separate groups of foster children between the ages of 1 and 10 years in the U. S. (Oakland, CA). The first group included 14 children whose medical charts were reviewed. The second group included 13 children for dietary assessments (24-hour dietary recall).
Methods: Group one: medical chart reviews; Group two: 24-hour dietary recall.
- Medical chart review:
- Physical growth: 11 children (79%) had potential growth problems
- Anemia: 5 children (36%) were anemic
- Dietary data: all nutrients investigated were at or above 66% of the recommended intake [Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)].
- Eating behaviors: 30% of all the children in the study had disturbed eating behaviors including gorging to the point of vomiting, stealing and hiding food, self-induced vomiting, and frequent food refusal.
Conclusions & Clinical Implications: Children living in foster care are at nutritional risk, with the majority of children in this study having potential growth problems, over one-third diagnosed with anemia, and nearly one-third having disturbed eating behaviors. Although dietary intake seemed to meet the RDAs, the authors highlight that foster children often experience many health problems and illnesses which may increase their nutritional needs.
Limitations of the Nutritional Results: This study was a pilot study and included a small number of children, and as the authors mentioned, the nutritional needs of foster children need to be better described. Also, the paper was a very brief report and details of nutritional status were very limited in the report. For instance, “potential growth problems” was not defined; it is unclear whether this only includes children who were below -2 z scores, or if other growth problems were included. Additionally, the criteria for diagnosing anemia were not described. This study was also undertaken 20 years ago and may not represent the current health and nutritional needs of similar children.
Reference: DuRousseau PC, Moquette-Magee E, Disbrow D. Children in foster care: are they at nutritional risk? Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 1991; 91 (1): 83-85. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1869764