Growth patterns in child abuse

Acta Paediatr Scand Suppl. 1988;343:62-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.1988.tb10803.x.


This study reports clinical details and statistical analysis of linear and body mass growth retardation in a cohort of 260 abused children. Seventy-one children (26%) showed impairment of growth for weight or height; 21 out of 92 children who spent time in foster homes showed catch-up growth whereas only 5 out of 168 never separated from their parents demonstrated improvement in height or weight centiles. Out of 11 children placed in foster care who were more than 2 SD below the mean for height, 10 demonstrated significant catch-up whereas only 4 out of 28 children who remained in their natural homes did so. Catch-up growth among children who remained at home was generally less than that which occurred in foster homes. In 17 cases diagnosis of growth impairment preceded nonaccidental injury. Growth of growth-retarded children in natural homes was poor. Because of the relationship between poor growth and other parameters of development, children who show catch-up growth in foster homes should probably not be 'rehabilitated' with their natural parents.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Body Height
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Child Abuse*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Failure to Thrive / etiology
  • Failure to Thrive / physiopathology*
  • Failure to Thrive / rehabilitation
  • Female
  • Foster Home Care
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male