The growth of South African rural black children
The growth status of two samples of South African rural black children, from Ubombo, KwaZulu, and Vaalwater, northern Transvaal, was compared with that of samples of American black children and three other rural sub-Saharan groups. All the sub-Saharan black children were shorter, lighter and had less subcutaneous fat than the American children. Their growth curves demonstrated the well-recognised pattern of deviation from American means before adolescence so that, by the start of adolescence, approximately 50% of the children were below the 10th centile of American norms. Adolescence in all groups is delayed and the magnitude of peak velocity reduced. The adolescent growth spurt appears, however, to be extended along the time base so that pre- and post-peak velocities are raised; this leads to apparent catch-up growth in the late teenage years. While the Vaalwater sample demonstrated growth patterns very similar to those of other rural subSaharan black groups, the Ubombo children were consistently taller and heavier than all the others. These data are discussed in relation to the need for national norms that reflect the growth status of black South African children.
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