The long-term follow-up of severely malnourished children who participated in an intervention program


The study compared 18 severely malnourished children (IM) who participated in a three-year home visiting program with two other comparison groups, comprising 17 severely malnourished (NIM) and 19 adequately nourished children (controls). On enrolment, all the groups were in the same hospital, and both malnourished groups had lower developmental levels than the controls. The IM group received intervention for three years after hospitalization, consisting of weekly or two-weekly home visits with toy demonstrations. At 7, 8, 9 and 14 years after leaving the hospital, the three groups were compared on tests of school achievement and IQ. The members of the NIM showed no signs of reducing their deficits, and at the 14 year follow-up, they had markedly lower scores on the WISC verbal and performance scales, the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT), and the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) than the controls. Throughout the follow-up the IM group’s scores were intermediate between the NIMS and the controls in every test. At the 14-year follow-up, their scores were significantly higher than those of the NIM group in the WISC verbal scale, and the difference approached significance in the WRAT. It is concluded that psychosocial intervention should be an integral part of treatment for severely malnourished children.


Doi: 101111/j.1467-8624.1994.tb00761.x. Special issue on "Children and Poverty"

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Mental development