Anthropometry and body composition of south Indian babies at birth

Public Health Nutr. 2006 Oct;9(7):896-903. doi: 10.1017/phn2006943.


Objectives: To assess the consequences on body composition of increasing birth weight in Indian babies in relation to reported values in Western babies, and to assess the relationship between maternal and neonatal anthropometry and body composition.

Design: Prospective observational study.

Setting: Bangalore City, India.

Subjects: A total of 712 women were recruited at 12.5+/-3.1 weeks of gestation (mean+/-standard deviation, SD) and followed up until delivery; 14.5% were lost to follow-up. Maternal body weight, height, mid upper-arm circumference and skinfold thicknesses were measured at recruitment. Weight and body composition of the baby (skinfold thicknesses, mid upper-arm circumference, derived arm fat index and arm muscle index; AFI and AMI, respectively) were measured at birth in hospital.

Results: The mean+/-SD birth weight of all newborns was 2.80+/-0.44 kg. Birth weight was significantly related to the triceps and subscapular skinfold thickness of the baby. In a small number of babies with large birth weight for gestational age, there was a relatively higher normalised AFI relative to AMI than for babies with lower or appropriate birth weight for gestational age. Maternal height and fat-free mass were significantly associated with the baby's length at birth.

Conclusions: Skinfold thicknesses in Indian babies were similar to those reported in a Western population with comparable birth weights, and the relationship of AFI to birth weight appeared to be steeper in Indian babies. Thus, measures to increase birth weight in Indian babies should take into account possible adverse consequences on body composition. There were no significant relationships between maternal anthropometry and body composition at birth on multivariate analysis, except for sum of the baby's skinfold thicknesses and maternal fat-free mass (P<0.02).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Birth Weight / physiology*
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Skinfold Thickness*