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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 1020-4989

Abstract

LAUDE, Monica. Assessment of nutritional status, cognitive development, and mother-child interaction in Central American refugee children. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 1999, vol.6, n.3, pp. 164-171. ISSN 1020-4989.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49891999000800003.

A cross-sectional study was conducted between July and December 1992 to assess the nutritional status, cognitive development, and mother-child interactions in a group of 153 Nicaraguan refugee children living in Costa Rica. Nutritional status was assessed using anthropometric indices. Cognitive development was assessed with the Bayley Scale of Mental Development. Mother-child interaction was assessed with the Nursing Child Assessment Teaching Scale and Caldwell's Home Observation and Measurement of the Environment Inventory. Correlational analysis was performed to examine the relationship between child cognitive development scores and mother-child interaction measures and also between anthropometric measures and child cognitive development scores. Multiple regression analysis was performed to evaluate the relationship between the mother-child interaction measures and cognitive development scores, after adjusting by anthropometric measures. Thirty-three percent of the children were below the 10th percentile for height-for-age. There was no significant correlation between the total amount of mother-child interaction and child cognitive development. However, certain aspects of the home environment correlated with cognitive development, specifically the manner in which the mother responded emotionally and verbally to her child, and the organization of the child's physical and temporal environment. Multiple regression analysis revealed that the manner in which the mother responded and the child's weight-for-height were important in predicting child cognitive development. The child's weight-for-height and certain aspects of the home environment played an important role in the cognitive development of this refugee population. The findings indicate the importance of assessing nutritional status in this refugee population.

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