Early development of adiposity and insulin resistance after catch-up weight gain in small-for-gestational-age children

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Jun;91(6):2153-8. doi: 10.1210/jc.2005-2778. Epub 2006 Mar 14.


Context and objective: Low birth weight followed by rapid postnatal weight gain is associated with long-term risks for central obesity and insulin resistance. However, the timing of these changes is unclear.

Setting, design, and patients: This was a longitudinal cohort study in low birth weight (SGA; birth weight < -2 sd; n = 29) and normal birth weight (AGA; n = 22) children from Barcelona.

Main outcome measures: Body composition, by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry scan, and insulin sensitivity, assessed longitudinally at ages 2, 3, and 4 yr, were measured.

Results: Mean height, weight, and body mass index at ages 2, 3, and 4 yr were not different between SGA and AGA children. At age 2 yr, SGA children had similar body composition but were more insulin sensitive than AGA children and had lower serum IGF-I levels and lower neutrophil counts. Between ages 2 and 4 yr, despite similar gains in weight and body mass index, SGA children gained more abdominal fat and body adiposity and less lean mass than AGA children; by age 4 yr, SGA children had greater adiposity, insulin resistance, and higher neutrophil counts than AGA children (P = 0.01-0.0004). In SGA children, total and abdominal fat mass at 4 yr was more closely related to rate of weight gain between 0 and 2 yr (P = 0.002-0.0003) than between 2 and 4 yr (P = 0.04-0.1).

Conclusion: Consequent to catch-up weight gain between birth and 2 yr, SGA children showed a dramatic transition toward central adiposity and insulin resistance between ages 2 and 4 yr. Understanding the mechanisms underlying this predisposition to adverse future health could lead to specific preventive interventions during early childhood.

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity*
  • Body Composition
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age*
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Weight Gain*


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I