This study suggested that the potential for catch-up growth increases as maturation is delayed and the growth period is prolonged. However, it postulated that maturational delays in developing countries are usually less than two years, only enough to compensate for a small fraction of the growth retardation of early childhood. Follow-up studies find that subjects who remain in the setting in which they became stunted experience little or no catch-up in growth later in life. Improvements in living conditions, as through food supplementation or through adoption of improved nutritional practices, trigger catch-up growth but do so more effectively in the very young.
Martorell R., Khan L.K., Schroeder D.G. "Reversibility of Stunting: Epidemiological Findings in Children from Developing Countries." European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1994), Vol 48 Supp.