Stunted Growth in Internationally Adopted Children
Eastern European Growth Project is an adoption research project out of the University of Minnesota International Adoption Medicine Program. The project studied 120 internationally adopted children from Eastern Europe between the ages of 6 to 48 months. The children were first evaluated within three weeks of their arrival in the United States and again at 6 months post-adoption.
This project looked at the risk factors that would predict stunted physical growth. The results so far indicate the following risk factors:
o If the child has a history of severe deprivation, it is more likely that they will be of shorter stature at the time of arrival.
o If the child is an older age at adoption, it is more likely that they will be of shorter stature at the time of arrival.
o If the child has a history of prenatal alcohol exposure, it is more likely that they will be of lower weight at the time of arrival.
o If the child has a history of prenatal alcohol exposure, it is more likely that they will have a smaller head circumference at the time of arrival.
Interestingly, they did not find a single risk factor that is able to predict growth stunting in all three growth measures (height/length, weight, and head circumference); also, failure in one area of growth (i.e.: height) can be predicted by more than one risk factor.
Adoptive parents will be more interested in the second part of the study which focused on the factors that influence whether the child will “catch up” growth once home. This adoption study found that most children demonstrated excellent catch-up growth in height, weight, head circumference within 6 months. Factors which might predict whether a child would catch up height were as follows: influenced the amount of
o Female sex seems to predict better linear growth.
o Severity of growth stunting at the initial assessment seems to predict better linear growth.
o An increase in IGFBP-3 between the initial and follow-up visit is associated with better linear growth.
Changes in IFG-1 levels and weight are not significant predictors of linear growth. Why girls did better than boys, and the role of IGFBP-3 both remain to be studied.