Residential context, institutional alloparental care, and child growth in Jamaica

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14 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Although children are typically raised in familial care networks, not all children have access to kin. Here, I investigate the growth measures of children living in two different residential contexts in Jamaica: institutional care settings and familial homes.

METHODS: This cross-sectional study sampled individuals ranging from 5-18 years old, residing in children's homes (N = 113 participants) and familial homes (N = 103 participants). Anthropometric measurements and interview data were collected from all participants. Height for age z-scores (ZHFA) and weight for age z-scores (ZWFA) were calculated using the 2007 WHO standards. Body fat was estimated from tricep and suprailiac skinfold thickness. Between group comparisons were completed using analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), with age included as a covariate. Significance was accepted at P ≤ 0.05.

RESULTS: Context was more predictive of condition among children than adolescents. Both girls and boys ages 5-11 years living with family members had higher mean height and weight for age, and summed skinfold thickness measures, than their peers living in children's homes. Fewer correlations between home setting and growth measurements were found among 12-18 year olds. Notably, although children were randomly assigned to children's homes, boys in a single-sex institution did not differ in growth measurements from boys living with family members.

CONCLUSIONS: Younger children who lived with family members had better growth measurements than their peers living in institutional settings. However, improved growth measures for children living in one home were correlated to nonconventional counseling practices, and nutritional policies that mirror some aspects of familial care. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 28:493-502, 2016.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)493-502
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology
  • Genetics


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