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Cognitive development of children in poverty with failure to thrive: a prospective study through age 6

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Background:

This study examined the cognitive development of children in poverty with normal growth and those with a history of failure to thrive (FTT) prospectively from infancy through age 6. Method:

Participants were 226 low-income infants with normal birthweight and no perinatal complications, congenital problems, or chronic illnesses. One hundred and twenty-eight children experienced FTT and were treated in an interdisciplinary clinic, and 98 had normal growth. Results:

Cognitive development declined in both groups to 1.0–1.5 SD below the norm. Children with FTT had lower cognitive scores than children with adequate growth through age 4, followed by recovery. By ages 5 and 6, there were no differences in cognitive scores based on the children's growth history. Using hierarchical linear modeling, child-centered home environment and small family size were related to better cognitive performance. Conclusions:

The low scores of both groups point to the need for programs promoting a child-centered home environment.
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Keywords: Failure to thrive; child development; cognitive development; growth; low income

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Psychology Department, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, USA; 2: Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland, School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2003

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