Small for gestational age: short stature and beyond

Endocr Rev. 2007 Apr;28(2):219-51. doi: 10.1210/er.2006-0039. Epub 2007 Feb 23.


Depending on the definitions used, up to 10% of all live-born neonates are small for gestational age (SGA). Although the vast majority of these children show catch-up growth by 2 yr of age, one in 10 does not. It is increasingly recognized that those who are born SGA are at risk of developing metabolic disease later in life. Reduced fetal growth has been shown to be associated with an increased risk of insulin resistance, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. The majority of pathology is seen in adults who show spontaneous catch-up growth as children. There is evidence to suggest that some of the metabolic consequences of intrauterine growth retardation in children born SGA can be mitigated by ensuring early appropriate catch-up growth, while avoiding excessive weight gain. Implicitly, this argument questions current infant formula feeding practices. The risk is less clear for individuals who do not show catch-up growth and who are treated with GH for short stature. Recent data, however, suggest that long-term treatment with GH does not increase the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus and the metabolic syndrome in young adults born SGA.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Body Height / drug effects
  • Child
  • Child Development / physiology
  • Fetal Development / physiology
  • Growth Disorders / complications
  • Growth Disorders / diagnosis
  • Growth Disorders / drug therapy
  • Growth Disorders / etiology*
  • Growth Hormone / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age* / growth & development
  • Leptin / therapeutic use
  • Metabolic Syndrome / etiology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Models, Biological


  • Leptin
  • Growth Hormone