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May 19, 1969

Development of the Growth-Retarded Fetus

JAMA. 1969;208(7):1182. doi:10.1001/jama.1969.03160070060018

Malnutrition in early infancy, so prevalent in many parts of the world, may critically affect growth and development. Severe fetal growth retardation due to intrauterine nutritional insufficiency has been indicted as a deterrent to optimal brain development.1 During this period of rapid cell division, imposition of nutritional restraint may have permanent consequences in the reduction of the total cell mass. Infants, as well as the young of lower animals who demonstrate less than normal growth at birth, have proportionately less reduction in brain weight than in other organs or tissues, a finding which suggests some protection of this vital center. Churchill et al,2 in a retrospective study of children with undifferentiated mental retardation, have shown that these patients have a lower birth weight than children with high IQs. He has suggested that even moderate untrition impairment may reduce the intellectual potential of the child.

That intellectual development is