The consequences of malnutrition for intellectual development

  • S. A. Richardson


In the 1960s concern became widespread that malnutrition in infancy caused permanent intellectual impairment or mental retardation. The first major international conference on the subject was held in 1967 (Scrimshaw and Gordon, 1968). Numerous studies have been carried out in the past two decades and there has been a plethora of reviews and conference proceedings (for example, Pan American Health Organization, 1972; Kallen, 1973; Manocha, 1972; Serban, 1975; Brozek, 1979; Winick, 1976; Galler, 1983; Levitsky, 1979; Cravioto et al., 1974; Stein and Kassab, 1970; Greene, 1977). While the reviews largely dealt with the same studies, a remarkable diversity of interpretation of the results was given by the reviewers. For example:

There is overwhelming evidence that severe malnutrition during the early years of life, especially the first two years, leads to retarded brain growth, permanent reduction in brain size and defective intellectual development. Malnutrition has, therefore, been rightly blamed as one of the main causes of mental retardation. (Manocha, 1972, p. 123)


Mental Retardation Social Class Biochemical Development Brain Damage Mental Development 
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© The Royal Society of Medicine 1984

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  • S. A. Richardson

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