The contributions of differing degrees of acute and chronic malnutrition to the intellectual development of Jamaican boys

Stephen A. Richardson, Helene Koller, Mindy Katz, Ken Albert

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The purpose of this paper is to determine whether differing degrees and types of malnutrition cause differing degrees of mental impairment. Subjects were 59 Jamaican boys hospitalized for malnutrition in infancy and whose intelligence was assessed at school age. The measure used for degree of chronic malnutrition was height for age and for acute malnutrition weight for height. The measure of intelligence was the I.Q. (WISC). Because the social environment in which a child lives influences his intellectual development, a measure of social background was used as an independent variable in addition to the nutrition measures. Social background showed a significant effect on I.Q. but neither measure of nutrition was significant. A further analysis using comparisons who had not been hospitalized for malnutrition suggests that malnutrition may contribute to mental impairment, through a threshold effect rather than acting as a continuous variable where increasing degrees of malnutrition cause increasing degrees of mental impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-170
Number of pages8
JournalEarly Human Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1978



  • chronic and acute malnutrition
  • intelligence
  • social background

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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