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Body weight, social competence, and cognitive functioning in survivors of childhood brain tumors

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  • Conflict of interest: Nothing to report.

Abstract

Background

The purpose of the following article was to examine: (a) body mass index (BMI) in survivors of childhood brain tumors; (b) the association of BMI with social competence and cognitive functioning; and (c) congruency in reporting of survivors' social competence by the survivors, parents, and teachers.

Procedure

Fifty-four survivors of childhood brain tumors (32 males) 8–18 years participated. BMI-for-age percentiles and BMI Z-scores (SDS) were calculated and survivors were categorized as underweight, normal, overweight, or obese, using established criteria. Informants completed measures of social competence and internalizing behaviors. Survivors also completed a test of self-perception and cognitive functioning (IQ).

Results

Survivors were more underweight (15% vs. 4%), and less overweight (17% vs. 31%) than population norms (χ2 = 38.62, P < 0.001). Parents perceived lower social competence in survivors that were underweight, had lower verbal IQ, and higher internalizing behaviors (P < 0.05). A significant interaction between BMI-for-age and IQ on self-perception of close friendships suggested that survivors with lower weight and lower IQ perceived having fewer close friendships (P < 0.05). Congruency among the three informants was moderate.

Conclusions

Survivors of childhood brain tumors are at increased risk for underweight. Underweight status is related to lower parent reported social competence and survivors' self-perception of fewer close friendships in the presence of low IQ. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2010;55:532–539. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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