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Maternal and Child Health Bureau ~ 2

1. Who are the children with special health care needs?

"Children with special health care needs are those who have or are at increased risk for a chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional condition and who also require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally." (McPherson, et al, 1998).

For all children, growth potential is determined by genetics, and influenced by biological and environmental factors.  These factors can include disease, nutrient intake, poverty, and other environmental circumstances. A child with special health care needs is at higher risk for other factors that can influence growth, such as impaired motor skills, the need for long-term use of medications, and other, secondary medical conditions.

Growth interpretation is a key part of the design of medical and nutrition interventions. As with all children, accurate weighing and measuring are critical. For more information about technique for measuring and interpreting growth, see the modules about Accurately Weighing and Measuring Infants, Children, and Adolescents: Equipment; Technique; Developing and Rating Your Technique.

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