The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Birth size, early weight gain, and diet: relationships to weight-for-length during the first year


1Biology, Southern Oregon University, 2Mathematics, Southern Oregon University

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Data were collected for 187 infants enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Data were collected for all infants during an initial clinic visit (mean age 5.7 weeks) and at a follow-up visit (mean age 29.0 weeks). Feeding was classified based on breastfeeding status at the time of the second clinic visit. Early weight gain was measured as change in weight z-score between birth and the first clinic visit. Early weight gain, birthweight, feeding, and ethnicity were tested as predictors of weight-for-length z-score at the second clinic visit.

Greater early weight gain and birthweight predicted higher weight-for-length z-score at the second clinic visit. Not breastfeeding at the second clinic visit also predicted higher weight-for-length z-score. Nearly all infants (99 %) that were not breastfed received formula and 39 percent of breastfed infants received formula. Accelerated growth during prenatal or early postnatal life may have lasting effects on body composition and term infants at both ends of the birthweight distribution may face higher risk of elevated weight-for-length. Breastfeeding may mitigate effects of early rapid weight gain on subsequent growth.

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