Nutritional influences on linear growth: a general review

Eur J Clin Nutr. 1994 Feb;48 Suppl 1:S75-89.

Abstract

The first section of this paper reviews what is known about the roles of specific nutrients in the general linear growth faltering that occurs in developing countries. Those reviewed are energy, protein, zinc, iron, copper, iodine and vitamin A. For none of these nutrients was there clear, consistent evidence that supplementation with the nutrient benefited linear growth. Rather, interventions with each specific nutrient had a positive effect on length gain in some studies, while in others these affected only weight gain or had no effect. Reasons for these conflicting results are suggested, including the strong probability that growth is limited by multiple, simultaneous deficiencies in many populations. This point is illustrated with data from the Nutrition Collaborative Research Support Program (CRSP) and other reports. Most interventions with single nutrients have been tested on children older than the age when linear growth faltering is most rapid, that is, within a few months of birth. Possible reasons why growth stunting begins so early in life are presented, but these are mostly hypothetical because of the paucity of information on this topic.

PIP: This paper reviews what is known about the roles of specific nutrients in the general linear growth faltering observed in developing countries. Energy, protein, zinc, iron, copper, iodine, and vitamin A are reviewed to find that no clear, consistent evidence exists which supports supplementation with the nutrient as beneficial for linear growth. Studies reported interventions with each specific nutrient to have a positive effect upon either length gain or weight gain, or to have no effect. Reasons are suggested for these conflicting results, including the strong possibility that growth is limited by multiple, simultaneous deficiencies in many populations. This point is illustrated with data from the Nutritional Collaborative Research Support Program (CRSP) and other reports. Most interventions with single nutrients have been tested on children more than a few months old, beyond the period during which linear growth faltering is most rapid. Possible reasons are presented why growth stunting begins so early in life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Height
  • Child
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / complications
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / diet therapy*
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Copper / administration & dosage
  • Developing Countries
  • Diet*
  • Energy Intake
  • Food, Fortified*
  • Growth Disorders / diet therapy*
  • Growth Disorders / etiology
  • Growth Disorders / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Nutrition Disorders / complications
  • Infant Nutrition Disorders / diet therapy*
  • Infant Nutrition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infections / complications
  • Iodine / administration & dosage
  • Iron / administration & dosage
  • Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin A / administration & dosage
  • Weight Gain
  • Zinc / administration & dosage

Substances

  • Proteins
  • Vitamin A
  • Copper
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Zinc