Low-Birthweight Baby: Born Too Soon or Too Small
81st Nestlé Nutrition Institute Workshop, Magaliesburg, March-April 2014Editor(s): Embleton N.D. (Newcastle upon Tyne)
Katz J. (Baltimore, Md.)
Ziegler E.E. (Coralville, Iowa)
Should We Promote Catch-Up Growth or Growth Acceleration in Low-Birthweight Infants?Singhal A.
Childhood Nutrition Research Centre, Institute of Child Health, University College London, London, UK
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The idea that catch-up growth or growth acceleration has adverse effects on long-term health has generated much debate. This pattern of growth is most commonly seen after birth in infants of low birthweight; a global problem affecting over 20 million newborns a year. Faster postnatal growth may have short-term benefits but increases the long-term risk of aging, obesity and metabolic disease. Consequently, the optimal pattern of postnatal growth is unclear and is likely to differ in different populations. In infants born prematurely, faster postnatal growth improves long-term cognitive function but is associated with later risk factors for cardiovascular disease. So, on balance, the current policy is to promote faster growth by increasing nutrient intake (e.g. using higher-nutrient preterm formulas). Whether the same policy should apply to larger preterm infants is not known. Similarly, in infants from impoverished environments, the short-term benefits of faster postnatal growth may outweigh long-term disadvantages. However, whether similar considerations apply to infants from countries in transition is uncertain. For term infants from developed countries, promoting catch-up growth by nutritional supplementation has few advantages for short- or long-term health. Overall therefore, a ‘one size fits all' solution for the optimal pattern of postnatal growth is unlikely.
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