Early childhood supplementation does not benefit the long-term growth of stunted children in Jamaica

Susan P. Walker, Sally M. Grantham-Mcgregor, John H. Himes, Christine A. Powell, Susan M. Chang

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35 Scopus citations


The long-term benefits of early childhood supplementation and the extent to which catch-up growth occurs following linear growth retardation remain controversial. Stunted children (height-for-age < -2 SD of NCHS references, n = 122) recruited from a survey of poor neighborhoods in Kingston, Jamaica, participated in a 2-yr randomized, controlled trial of supplementation beginning at ages 9-24 mo. A group of 32 non-stunted children from the same neighborhoods was also followed. Four years after the intervention ended, when children were 7 to 8 y old, there were no effects of supplementation on any anthropometric measure. From the end of the trial until follow-up, the children who had been supplemented gained 1.2 cm less (P < 0.05) than the non-supplemented children, approximately the same amount as they had gained during the trial compared with the non-supplemented children. After adjustment for regression to the mean, the height-for-age of stunted children (supplemented and non-supplemented combined) increased from enrollment to follow-up by 0.31 Z-score (95% CI 0.17, 0.46). The height- for-age of the non-stunted children also increased (0.96 Z-score; 95% CI 0.70, 1.22). Our results suggest that some catch-up growth is possible even when children remain in poor environments. Long-term benefits of supplementation to growth may not be achieved when intervention begins after age 12 mo in children who have already become undernourished.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3017-3024
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1996


  • catch- up growth
  • children
  • linear growth retardation
  • nutritional supplementation


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