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February 19, 1992

Improving Growth Status of Asian Refugee Children in the United States

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Nutrition, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, Ga.

JAMA. 1992;267(7):937-940. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480070053029

Objective.  —To analyze the trend and pattern of the nutrition status of Southeast Asian refugee children and other low-income children in the United States.

Design.  —Descriptive analysis of the growth data from the Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System of the Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, Ga, from 1980 through 1989.

Subjects.  —Children under 5 years of age from low-income families enrolled in public health clinics in 12 selected states.

Measurements and Main Results.  —Asian refugee children experienced a progressive and significant decline in the prevalence of low birth weight, low height-for-age, and low weight-for-age, while these nutritional indexes remained stable for low-income white, black, and Hispanic children. By 1989, the growth status of Asian children was near that of other ethnic groups.

Conclusions.  —The marked improvement of growth status among Asian refugee children over a short period suggests that the poor growth status often observed among recently immigrated Asian children is primarily related to nutritional and health factors, rather than genetic factors. In assessing the growth of Asian or immigrant children, it would be helpful to take their family and early childhood background into account.(JAMA. 1992;267:937-940)