Background: Whereas weight or height at a given age are the results of the cumulative growth experience, growth velocities allows the study of factors affecting growth at given ages.
Aim: To study the relationships between parental height and body mass index (BMI) and offspring's height and weight growth during infancy and childhood.
Study design: From the FLVSII population-based study, 235 parent-child trios belonging to 162 families examined in 1999.
Outcome measures: From medical records and previous FLVS examinations, child's height and weight history were reconstructed. Weight and height growth velocities from birth to seven years were estimated from a modelling of individual growth curve and correlated with parent's body size in 1999.
Results: Ponderal index and length at birth were significantly associated with maternal but not paternal BMI and height. In the first six months, height growth velocity was significantly associated with maternal stature (at three months: 0.12+/-0.05 and 0.02+/-0.05 cm/month for a 10 cm difference in maternal and paternal height respectively) and weight growth velocity with paternal BMI (at three months: 5.7+/-2.8 and 1.9+/-2.3g/month for a difference of 1 kg/m(2) in paternal and maternal BMI respectively). Between two and five years, height growth velocity was more significantly associated with paternal height whereas weight growth velocity was more closely associated with maternal BMI.
Conclusions: Early childhood growth is characterised by alternate periods associated specifically with maternal or paternal BMI and height. This novel finding should trigger the search for specific genetic, epigenetic or environmentally shared factors from the mothers and fathers.
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