Researchers use new technology to evaluate children’s growth in Ecuador

Faculty; Global; Public Health; Research

Researchers from the Brown School used tablet-based ultrasound technology to evaluate the bone age of young children in rural Ecuador. The research showed that delayed bone age was associated with stunted growth and diet.

Stunted growth and development is a serious global public health problem, and determining a child’s bone age and comparing it to their chronological age can help to determine whether a child has a growth problem. Lora Iannotti, associate professor at the Brown School, led a team that used a new technology – tablet-based ultrasound – to assess bone age in a community in Ecuador where stunting was prevalent.

The research was conducted in 2017, when 128 children were evaluated.  They found that bone age was lower in children who had stunted growth and was associated with diet.

“We adapted field-based ultrasound technology for use in public health research, with application possibilities in other low-resource settings where access to MRI might be limited,”  said Iannotti, an expert in nutrient deficiencies related to poverty and infectious diseases. “The imaging allowed us to examine connections between bone development and child nutrition.”

Results of the study were published in the journal Radiology.