Babies that are born with lower birth weight than normal usually catch up in their growth to match their counterparts born of normal weight. A study now indicates that a quick increase in weight especially during the first three months of life could predispose the baby to developing health issues in later life.
Studies indicate that small newborns often suffer from diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidemia in later life. Researchers recently studied the effect of a rapid weight gain during the first three months of life on the development of diseases in later life. They collected data between the years 1985 to 1987 from one thousand pregnant women who had one or more risk factors for giving birth to a small for gestational age (SGA) baby. The data included details regarding fetal growth velocity in the third trimester, birth weight for gestational age and growth in the first year of life.
AdvertisementOf these children, one hundred and twenty three were followed up during their adolescence in the years 2003-2005. From these, 87 individuals who had the required data were included in the study. These included 30 children who were born SGA and 57 who were appropriate for gestational age (AGA).
[A newborn that is smaller than a normal newborn of the same gender (usually less than 10th percentile) is said to be "Small for Gestational Age (SGA)." Newborns that are of normal size are said to be "Adequate for Gestational Age (AGA)."]
The researchers found that glucose metabolism was adversely affected in adolescents born SGA who showed accelerated growth in the first three months of life. However, the accelerated weight gain did not affect glucose metabolism in infants born AGA.
Lipid profile and blood pressure were also adversely affected by weight gain in the first three months. This effect was similar in SGA as well as AGA individuals.
Thus, the researchers conclude that weight gain during the period soon after birth may be an important determinant of future ailments like diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidemia especially in small for gestational age (SGA) babies.
1. Impact of Birth Weight and Early Infant Weight Gain on Insulin Resistance and Associated Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Adolescence; Signe et al; PloS One 2011.
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