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Pediatr Res. 1990 Sep;28(3):235-9.

The long-term effects of early kwashiorkor compared with marasmus. IV. Performance on the national high school entrance examination.

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  • 1Center for Behavioral Development and Mental Retardation, Boston University School of Medicine, Massachusetts 02118.


This is one of a series of studies on the long-term effects of early childhood malnutrition in Barbadian school children. This is the first report of the relationship between early malnutrition and later performance on a national examination administered to all 11-y-old children in Barbados to assign high school seats. We compared scores achieved on the 11-plus examination by 103 boys and girls with histories of marasmus or kwashiorkor with those obtained by 63 healthy comparison children and also with scores obtained by the total island population of children during the same years. We report that children with histories of either type of malnutrition confined to infancy had significantly lower scores on the national high school examination than healthy comparison children. Reduced 11-plus scores were closely associated with teacher reports of attention deficits in the classroom documented when the children were as young as 5 to 8 y of age and also with IQ and academic performance. Early malnutrition had independent effects on performance on the 11-plus examination even when home environmental conditions were controlled for. These findings have important implications for future opportunities available to children with histories of infantile malnutrition.

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