Objectives: This study analyzed growth and identified related medical conditions among refugee children in Massachusetts.
Methods: Between July 1995 and June 1998, 1825 refugee children were screened. Variables included positive tuberculin (purified protein derivative; PPD) test; dental abnormalities; pathogenic parasites; weight-for-age, height-for-age, and weight-for-height z scores; and body mass index greater than the 84th percentile.
Results: Of all the children, 21% had parasites, 62% had caries, and 25% had a positive PPD reaction. Twelve percent overall and 28% younger than 2 years had anemia. Eight percent had height-for-age z scores less than -2, and 6% had weight-for-age z scores greater than +2. Of those aged 1 to 9 years, 7% had weight-for-height z scores greater than +2. Weight-for-height z scores less than -2 were concentrated among Africans and East Asians (both 8%). Height-for-age z scores less than -2 were seen among African (13%), Near Eastern (19%), and East Asian (30%) children. Weight-for-height z scores greater than +2 and body mass index greater than the 84th percentile were concentrated among children from the former Yugoslavia (8% and 15%) and the former Soviet Union (8% and 14%).
Conclusions: Recently arrived refugee children have significant growth abnormalities. European refugees were overweight; those from developing countries had growth retardation.