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Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2010 Jun;164(6):507-16. doi: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2010.56. Epub 2010 Apr 5.

Growth and associations between auxology, caregiving environment, and cognition in socially deprived Romanian children randomized to foster vs ongoing institutional care.

Author information

  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, 420 Delaware St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA. johns008@umn.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To determine effects of improved nurturing compared with institutional care on physical growth and to investigate the association between growth and cognitive development.

DESIGN:

A randomized controlled trial beginning in infants (mean age, 21.0 months; range, 5-32 months), with follow-up at 30, 42, and 54 months of age.

SETTING:

Institutionalized and community children in Bucharest, Romania.

PARTICIPANTS:

One hundred thirty-six healthy institutionalized children from 6 orphanages and 72 typically developing, never-institutionalized children.

INTERVENTION:

Institutionalized children were randomly assigned to receive foster care or institutional care as usual.

OUTCOME MEASURES:

Auxology and measures of intelligence over time.

RESULTS:

Growth in institutionalized children was compromised, particularly in infants weighing less than 2500 g at birth. Mean height and weight, though not head size, increased to near normal within 12 months in foster care. Significant independent predictors for greater catch-up in height and weight included age younger than 12 months at randomization, lower baseline z scores, and higher caregiving quality, particularly caregiver sensitivity and positive regard. Baseline developmental quotient, birth weight, and height catch-up were significant independent predictors of cognitive abilities at follow-up. Each incremental increase of 1 in standardized height scores between baseline and 42 months was associated with a mean increase of 12.6 points (SD, 4.7 points) in verbal IQ (P < .05).

CONCLUSIONS:

Foster care had a significant effect on growth, particularly with early placement and high-quality care. Growth and IQ in low-birth-weight children are particularly vulnerable to social deprivation. Catch-up growth in height under more nurturing conditions is a useful indicator of caregiving quality and cognitive improvement.

PMID:
20368481
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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