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J Clin Diagn Res. 2017 Mar;11(3):CC01-CC04. doi: 10.7860/JCDR/2017/22181.9383. Epub 2017 Mar 1.

Impact of Nutritional Status on Cognition in Institutionalized Orphans: A Pilot Study.

Author information

1
Undergraduate Student, Department of Physiology, Alake Janardhana Shetty Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Mangalore, Karnataka, India.
2
Associate Professor, Department of Physiology, Academy of Medical Sciences, Pariyaram, Kerala, India.
3
Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology, Academy of Medical Sciences, Pariyaram, Kerala, India.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Proper nutrition is critical for maximizing brain function and enhancing learning. There is accumulating evidence that early malnutrition, marked by stunting, is associated with long-term deficits in cognitive and academic performance, even when social and psychological differences are controlled. All over the world, children living without permanent parental care are at a heightened risk for under-nutrition, putting their health and development in great jeopardy.

AIM:

To assess the nutritional and cognitive status in institutionalized orphans which might help to formulate effective interventions for improving the nutritional status of vulnerable children in future.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

This cross-sectional, study included 70 children (35 orphans and 35 non-orphans). Their anthropometric measurements (height, weight, and BMI) were measured and cognition was assessed using subsets of Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (WISC-R): Block design and Digit span. The data obtained was subjected to descriptive statistical analysis.

RESULTS:

18.57% (13) of children had stunting, 15.71% (11) had wasting, 22.86% (16) were underweight, and 17.14% (12) showed thinness. Mean±SD of Block design in non-orphans was significantly higher compared to orphans (p-value 0·05). Mean±SD of Digit span in non-orphans was significantly higher compared to orphans (p-value 0·000). For Block design, there was moderate positive correlation with nutritional status based on Z-scores (p-value <0·05). Digit span also showed moderate positive correlation (p-value <0·05).

CONCLUSION:

The results of our study indicate that children in orphanages have high rates of both malnutrition and cognitive delay compared to the non-orphans and there was a direct correlation between both the variables. If orphanages are here to stay as a last resort for children deprived of a family there is an urgent need to improve the institutional environment in order to foster the development of millions of children in orphanages around the world.

KEYWORDS:

Block design; Digit span; Nutrition; Z-scores

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