Objective: Low birth weight remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality in early infancy and childhood. It is associated with an increased risk of health problems later in life, particularly coronary heart disease and stroke. A meeting was convened to identify the key health issues facing a child born small for gestational age (SGA) and to propose management strategies.
Participants: There were 42 participants chosen for their expertise in obstetrics, peri- and neonatal medicine, pediatrics, pediatric and adult endocrinology, epidemiology, and pharmacology.
Evidence: Written materials were exchanged, reviewed, revised, and then made available to all. This formed the basis for discussions at the meeting. Where published data were not available or adequate, discussion was based on expert clinical opinions.
Consensus process: Each set of questions was considered by all and then discussed in plenary sessions with consensus and unresolved issues identified. The consensus statement was prepared in plenary sessions and then edited by the group chairs and shared with all participants.
Conclusions: The diagnosis of SGA should be based on accurate anthropometry at birth including weight, length, and head circumference. We recommend early surveillance in a growth clinic for those without catch-up. Early neurodevelopment evaluation and interventions are warranted in at-risk children. Endocrine and metabolic disturbances in the SGA child are recognized but infrequent. For the 10% who lack catch-up, GH treatment can increase linear growth. Early intervention with GH for those with severe growth retardation (height sd score, <-2.5; age, 2-4 yr) should be considered at a dose of 35-70 microg/kg x d. Long-term surveillance of treated patients is essential. The associations at a population level between low birth weight, including SGA, and coronary heart disease and stroke in later life are recognized, but there is inadequate evidence to recommend routine health surveillance of all adults born SGA outside of normal clinical practice.