Medical diagnoses and growth of children residing in Russian orphanages

Acta Paediatr. 2007 Dec;96(12):1765-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2007.00537.x. Epub 2007 Oct 30.


Aims: Survey the health of young children residing in Russian orphanages.

Methods: Retrospective chart review of all 193 'healthy' young children (105M:88F, age range 2-72 months) residing in orphanages in Murmansk, Russia.

Results: Mothers of these institutionalized children had complex histories including chronic health problems (38%), use of tobacco (41%), alcohol (39%) and illicit drugs (7%). Frequent diagnoses of the children included rickets (21%), foetal alcohol syndrome (10%), anemia (6%), developmental delay (11% mild, 25% moderate, 28% severe), behavioural problems (60%) and 'perinatal encephalopathy' (46%<1 year of age). At orphanage entry, growth delays were common (underweight 34%, short stature 25%, microcephaly 34%). During orphanage residence, height z scores further decreased (p=0.01), but head circumference improved (p<0.0001, paired t-tests). Head circumferences increased significantly in 62% of microcephalic children. Smaller children (z score<-2) at entry exhibited more rapid growth (z score/month) for weight (+0.24 vs. -0.12, p=0.04), height (+0.81 vs. -0.65, p=0.0001), and head circumference (+1.02 vs. -0.10, p=0.0004). Growth correlated with child developmental status.

Conclusions: Young institutionalized children in Murmansk have complex medical status, social histories and frequent growth and developmental delays. Anthropometric measurements-particularly head circumference-improved during orphanage residence in children who entered with more severe growth delays.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anemia / epidemiology
  • Body Size
  • Cephalometry
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / epidemiology
  • Child, Institutionalized / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developmental Disabilities / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / epidemiology
  • Growth Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Orphanages*
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rickets / epidemiology
  • Russia / epidemiology