This investigation was part of a longitudinal study of mental development of seventeen Jamaican children who were admitted to hospital with severe protein energy malnutrition. The children were compared with 20 adequately nourished children who were admitted to hospital for other reasons.
Previous research had shown that, 1 month after the children left hospital, both groups had similar scores on a modified Caldwell Inventory of Home Stimulation. When, in the present investigation, the inventory was repeated 24 months later, scores remained similar in both groups. When compared with data collected from a survey in a poor neighbourhood, again the scores of the neighbourhood children were similar to those of the malnourished group. The malnourished children were however living in poorer houses and had failed to catch up to the other groups in nutritional status.
Comparison of these findings with those from other countries suggests that the ecology of malnutrition differs in different cultures and that Jamaican mothers of malnourished children are characterized by poverty rather than poor maternal–child relationships.
It also appears that, at this age, poor levels of home stimulation were not a major factor in producing the deficit in development manifested by the malnourished group.