INFLUENCE OF THE WAR EVENTS ON BODY WEIGHT AND HEIGHT IN CHILDREN ENROLLING THE FIRST GRADE OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Summary. Physical growth is usually estimated by body weight and height measurements. Both parameters are strongly influenced by genetic and environmental factors. The study investigated the effect of war related psychological stress and socioeconomic deterioration on growth of children who were born and grew during the war-years. We compared body weight and height in 2 groups of preschool children at time of admission to the first grade of elementary school. In the first group of children, school entry medical examination was performed in spring 1990 and 1991 (pre-war group), while the second group of children had school entry medical examination in spring 1998, 1999 and 2000 (war group). The mean body weight of children in pre-war group (n=200; 98 girls) was M=24.52, SD=4.16 kg, height M=122.50, SD=4.71 cm, and the average age was M=6.67, SD=0.33 years. The war-group (n=214; 100 girls) were of the same mean age (M=6.67, SD=0.34 years), but they were 500 g lighter and 5 mm lower in average. However, the differences in body weight and height were not statistically significant (tweight=1.21, p>0.05; theight=1.13, p>0.05). The two groups matched in gender (c2-test=0.13, p>0.05). More educated parent of every child in pre-war group was employed, while 4 more educated parents (1.87%) in war-group were unemployed, but the difference was not statistically significant (c2-test=2.07, p>0.05). We conclude that growth of pre- school children in our region was not statistically significantly affected by stressful war events and war related socioeco- nomic situation. One could expect that these influences might be significant if we could examine the secular growth trend if there had been no war.