Impact of malnutrition on head size and development quotient

Kavita Tiwari, Suresh Goyal, Sunny Malvia, Anuradha Sanadhya, Rameshwar L. Suman, Rupali Jain


Background: Malnutrition is one of the most common global health problem. It produces notable morphological changes in the brains which damage the intellectual potential and leads to reduced brain size, inferred from measurements of head circumference(HC). Aim is to study the impact of malnutrition on head size and development quotient(DQ) in children suffering with malnutrition.

Methods: It is a hospital based study on 120 children including 100 moderates to severely malnourished children and 20 healthy controls aged 6-60 months admitted in malnutrition treatment center. Statistical analysis of head circumference and development quotient was done with severity of malnutrition and with each other.

Results: Out of 120 children, 80 were severely malnourished (SAM) and 20 were moderately malnourished (MAM) and 20 age and sex matched controls were taken. Mean age was 19.00±8.54 months. 36.25% of severely malnourished, 5% of moderately malnourished children and none in control had microcephaly (HC<-3SD). Mean DQ was 57.46±14.98, 78.35±6.60 and 94.45±3.96 in SAM, MAM and control children respectively. Statistically significant association was found for head circumference and development quotient with severity of malnutrition and with each other.

Conclusions: SAM adversely affects the developing brain of children as evidenced in our study by reduced head size and low DQ scores in children suffering from malnutrition. As seen in this study, prevalence of microcephaly and lower DQ scores increases with severity of malnutrition. Therefore, the study emphasizes the importance of early and timely intervention in such children before the severity of malnutrition increases to an extent of irreversible effects on brain and development.


Development quotient, Head size, Malnutrition

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