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Systematic Review indicates Postnatal growth in term infants born small for gestational age is associated with later neurocognitive and metabolic outcomes


In small-for-gestational-age infants positive associations between postnatal weight gain / growth and neurocognitive outcomes, adiposity, insulin resistance and blood pressure are confirmed via a wealth of observational studies, but not randomised controlled trials.

Infants that are small at birth tend to gain weight rapidly shortly after birth in a phase usually referred to as catch-up growth. Catch-up growth confers beneficial short-term effects in terms of survival, yet may also have effects on neuro-cognitive outcomes as well as metabolic health in the long-term. The systematic review by Castanys-Muñoz et al. 2017 focusses on small-for-gestational-age infants and shows that evidence from randomised controlled trials for such long-term effects is limited with the speed of catch-up growth being related to an increased fat mass, lean mass and blood pressure later on in life. The evidence from observational studies, however, clearly shows that faster catch-up growth in small-for-gestational-age infants leads to better neurocognitive outcomes, yet also worse metabolic health indicated from increased weight, insulin resistance and blood pressure in later life.

The full text article is available here with supplementary information available here.

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