"Human growth is the discipline where physiology, psychology and sociology meet"
James M., Tanner

Reports by the Secretary General: Mexico 2011, Slovenia 2014

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Buenos Aires, September 20th, 2011

The meeting was held between Monday 5th – Thursday 8th at the “Antigua Escuela de Medicina “ (Old School of Medicine), in Mexico City. It was organized by Professor of Anthropology Luis Alberto Vargas, with the sponsorship of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and the Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública.

The central perspective of the meeting was “The variability of human growth and development and its interaction with social and cultural dynamics.

The local Organizing Committee was composed of: Luis A. Vargas Guadarrama (President), María E. Saenz Faulhaber, Rosa M Ramos Rodríguez, Leonor Ochoa García, Jorge R. Gersenowies Rodríguez, Saul Duffo Olvera, Manuel S. Arteaga, Amada A. Rueda, Irma A. Aburto Lopez

There were 80 participants, the majority of whom were anthropologists. However there ocial and cultural were also statisticians, paediatricians, epidemiologists. The majority of the participants were Mexicans, but there were also people from Argentina, Bangla Desh, France, Italy, Japan, Holland, Slovenia, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, and Venezuela. The group from Cuba was registered, but not able to attend. The James Tanner lecture was in charge of Profesor Noel Cameron, from Loughborough University (UK) on “Adolescence in the 21th century. a critical period in human development”. Other experts from abroad were invited to lecture and attended the meeting: Horacio Lejarraga, Mercedes Lopez de Blanco, Robert Malina, Djiana Parizkova, Lawrence Schell. Most of the papers were concerned with malnutiriton and obesity in population groups, impact of adverse environmental conditions on growth and body composition, secular trends, nutritional impact on growth and psychomotor development. Some presentations departed from this pattern, such as one on referral criteria for growth monitoring, other on craniofacial growth. The absence of an uniform criteria on the use of growth standards or references for growth assessment either clinical on in population groups was outstanding amongst the different groups.

The following members of the Executive Committee were present: Horacio Lejarraga, Noel Cameron, Mercedes Lopez de Blanco, Silvano Milani and Lawrence Schell. Dr Taro Yamauchi from Japan was also invited, while he was in close contact with Dr Kumi Ashizawa.

The meeting was run within a very fiendly atmosphere, promoted by the traditional Mexican hospitality.



The XIIIth ISGA Congress of Auxology was held in Maribor, Slovenia. We had attendants from the following countries: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, China, Croatia, Szech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Poland, Spain, UK, USA, and Venezuela. The Scientific activities were developed according to the program.

The Tanner lecture, given by Noel Cameron, from UK, was a comprehensive description of the transitions experienced in various field of human life, from socio –political, demographic and cultural to nutritional and epidemiologic changes. These changes are accompanied by dramatic changes in nutritional patterns, leading to a global increase in non-communicable disease, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, and obesity. Research carried out in the last decades, strongly suggest that these conditions are related to early growth and nutritional experiences, to be found emerging from perinatal life and childhood. The challenge of new generations should be to help children to develop a life style associated to reduced risks of those metabolic consequences. Dr. Babette Zemel, from US lectured on the effects of growth and puberty on bone mineral accretion and the development of peak bone mass. Guidelines were described for achieving an optimal peak of bone mass during childhood and adolescence, and so preventing osteoporosis in adult life. Professor Lawrence Schell from USA lectured on the relationship of pollutants to growth, maturation and the nutrition transition based on research carried out with the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation on the St Lawrence River, US. The study focused on the polychlorinated biphenls, heavy metals and other substances, and described their effect on growth and sexual maturation. Dr Schell also explained how cultural values may affect scientific – based solutions addressed to decrease the level of contamination. Timothy Cole from UK lectured on the different methods for modeling growth data, both longitudinal and cross sectional. Dr. Ana Parizkova lectured about long term changes of growth, adiposity and functional capacity. Based on her long term, well known studies carried out in the Czech Republic, she described how adiposity and decrease in physical activity is present in contemporary life, and stressed the need of applying simple methods for an early detection of risk factors for metabolic syndrome. Dr Mathieu Roelants, from Belgium lectured on correlation models for conditional growth, a relevant subject since in normal conditions, variability on growth during infancy is quite large, being consequently quite complicated to assess during this period. Dr Yamauchi described absence of emaciation and a normal BMI in Zambian children, as well as a positive secular trend in height. Dr. Janina Tutkuviene, made a comprehensive overview on growth and maturation of children from Lithuania. Some oral presentations were of great importance, such as that presented by JM Swanson, from USA : a longitudinal long term growth study of children taking metilfenidate because of attention deficit disorders. He confirmed a growth deficit of 2 cm in adult height after long term treatment, and a delay of the growth spurt of 4-5 months. These results are most disturbing if we think that some papers seriously question the long term effect on learning of the so commonly used drug. Dr Lejarraga and his team presented a new set of positive health indicators based on the age of achievement of selected psychomotor developmental milestones. Dr. Paula van Dommelen (The Netherlands) illustrated that early catch-up growth is associated with an improved long-term outcome in a cohort of Dutch newborns born SGA and followed into adulthood, and Dr Taro Yamauchi from Japan observed stunting and underweight but normal BMI in Zambian children, as well as a positive secular trend in height over 20 years.

Dr Horacio Lejarraga, MD, Secretary General, ISGA
Buenos Aires, November 7, 2014