ew research from the Children of the 90s study at the University of Bristol shows that most babies who are slow to put on weight in the first nine months of life have caught up to within the normal range by the age of 13, but remain lighter and shorter than many of their peers. There are significant differences in the pattern of 'catchup', depending on the infant's age when the slow weight gain occurs.
The new findings, published today [Monday 25 February] in the journal Pediatrics, are based on data from 11,499 participants in Children of the 90s, and provide the most conclusive and reassuring evidence for parents to date that, with the right care, many infants who fail to put on weight quickly in the first nine months of life will catch up over time.
The study found that, of the 11,499 infants born at term, 507 were slow to put on weight before the age of eight weeks ('early group') and 480 were slow to gain weight between eight weeks and nine months ('late group'). Thirty children were common to both groups.
The infants in the early group recovered quickly and had almost caught up in weight by the age of two, whereas those in the later group gained weight slowly until the age of 7, then had a 'spurt' between 7 and 10 years, but remained considerably shorter and lighter than their peers and those in the early group at the age of 13. At that age, children in the later group were on average 5.5k lighter and almost 4cm shorter than their peers; those in the early group were on average 2.5k lighter and 3.25cm shorter than their peers.
Slow weight gain is often seen by parents and some healthcare professionals as a sign of underlying ill health and clinicians face a dilemma between taking steps to increase a child's energy intake and putting them at risk of obesity later in life by encouraging too rapid weight gain.
The study shows that there were very different patterns of recovery between the early and late groups, even when other factors like the mother's education, background, and her weight and height were taken into account, but that there was little difference between boys and girls.
Professor Alan Emond, the paper's main author explains:
'The reason the early group caught up more quickly may be because those infants had obvious feeding difficulties and were more readily identified at the eight-week check, resulting in early treatment leading to a more rapid recovery. However, as Children of the 90s is an observational study, there is limited information available about which infants received nutritional supplements or medical treatments.
'Those children who showed slow weight gain later in infancy took longer to recover, because of the longer period of slow growth and because their parents were smaller and lighter too.
'Overall parents can be re-assured that well babies showing slow weight gain in the first year do eventually recover to within the normal range, but at 13 years tend to be lighter and smaller than many of their peers.'
The findings highlight the importance of monitoring a baby's weight and height gain during the first few weeks and months, but not creating anxiety with parents of slow-growing babies who are well, as most of these babies will catch up to within the national average over time.
The message to health professionals is that, unless children require intervention due to ill health, their calorie intake should not be increased as this may predispose them to obesity later in life. Feeding habits in the second six months of life determine a child's future weight gain, so consuming too many calories in infancy can lead to weight problems later in life.
Notes to editors
1. Based at the University of Bristol (UK), Children of the 90s, also known as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), is a long-term health-research project that enrolled more than 14,000 pregnant women in 1991 and 1992. It has been following the health and development of the parents and their children in detail ever since and is currently recruiting the next generation into the study. It is funded by the University of Bristol, the Wellcome Trust and the UK Medical Research Council. Find out more at www.childrenofthe90s.ac.uk.
2. The paper: Alan Emond et al, 'Growth Outcomes of Weight Faltering in Infancy in ALSPAC' is published online in the journal Pediatrics today [Monday 25 February 2013].
3. The study did not include babies with a major congenital abnormality that could affect growth (e.g. cerebral palsy or Down syndrome), those who were part of a multiple birth, those born before 37 or after 42 weeks, or those for whom weight data were missing.
4. Professor Alan Emond is available for interview. For a copy of the paper and all interview requests, contact Dara O'Hare, communications manager at Children of the 90s, on +44(0)117 331 0077, +44(0)7891 549144 or email email@example.com.
Dara O'Hare | EurekAlert!
The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...
Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.
Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Earth Sciences
19.09.2017 | Materials Sciences
19.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy