A follow-up study of the influence of early malnutrition on development: behavior at home and at school

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1989 Mar;28(2):254-61. doi: 10.1097/00004583-198903000-00018.


A follow-up study of home and classroom behavior was conducted on 216 children, 9 through 15 years of age, half of whom had histories of moderate-severe protein energy malnutrition (marasmus) during the first year of life. Behavior was measured by two rating scales, administered to teachers and parents of the children. Observations made by teachers and parents were significantly correlated on 33% of the 41 overlapping items in the two questionnaires. The history of malnutrition had a significant association with attention deficits in children up to 15 years reported by parents and teachers, even when the effects of socioeconomic and home environmental factors were controlled. It was concluded that interventions specifically focussed on these attentional deficits should be considered early in life for children exposed to infantile malnutrition in order to prevent behavioral disorders in adolescence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / etiology
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / etiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Protein-Energy Malnutrition / complications*
  • Social Class