Aim: To determine if appropriate for gestational age, very low birth weight infants demonstrate catch-up growth.
Methods: The notes of 74 appropriate for gestational age, very low birth weight infants were reviewed and anthropometric measures converted into standard deviation scores (Z-scores). The growth of "well" infants was compared with that of "unwell" infants (those who developed necrotising enterocolitis, bronchopulmonary dysplasia or were not feeding at one week of age).
Results: All infants showed reduced weight (p<0.001) and head circumference (p<0.01) Z-scores at one week of age. This persisted until 35 weeks postmenstrual age in both groups, by which time length Z-scores had also reduced. The well group had regained birth Z-scores for all measurements by three months post-term. However the unwell group still had significantly lower weight (p<0.01) and length (p<0.05) Z-scores at three months.
Conclusions: Well very low birth weight infants regained their birth percentiles by three months post-term. In infants with significant neonatal illness, this recovery was delayed.