Growth in very preterm children: a longitudinal study

Pediatr Res. 2003 Dec;54(6):899-905. doi: 10.1203/01.PDR.0000091287.38691.EF. Epub 2003 Aug 20.


The knowledge about the long-term growth of very preterm children in relation to gestational age at birth is incomplete. Therefore, a retrospective study of longitudinal growth from birth to 7 y of age in 52 of 56 surviving children who were born at a gestational age of <29 wk between 1988 and 1991 to mothers resident in the city of Göteborg, Sweden, was performed. A majority of the children had an initial decrease in weight during the first months of life, followed by an increase, with a maximum weight gain occurring at 36-40 wk postmenstrual age. After a period of decreased weight and length velocity, a second increase in weight velocity was demonstrated from 6 mo to 2 y of corrected age. A corresponding increase in length velocity was found from 2 to 12 mo of corrected age. A later catch-up growth period was found at 4-5 y of age. At 7 y of age, all but two had reached the normal height range of the population. This long-term catch-up in height was established later in those who were born at an earlier gestational age. We conclude that all preterm infants had an initial period of poor growth, which rendered them growth retarded during the first years of life. It took approximately 4-7 y to overcome what the very preterm child lost in growth during the first months of life. However, as a group, they did reach normal height, weight, and weight for height before puberty.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Birth Weight
  • Body Height
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / growth & development*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Parents
  • Retrospective Studies