Introduction: Early postnatal weight gain is associated with determinants of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM2) in adults born term. We aimed to investigate the association of weight gain during different periods, and weight trajectories in early life after preterm birth, with determinants of CVD and DM2 in early adulthood.
Methods: Associations of first-year growth and tempo of weight gain with determinants of CVD and DM2 in 162 young adults (18-24 yr) born preterm (gestational age <36 wk) were determined and compared with data of young adults born term (n = 217).
Results: Gain in weight for length in the period from preterm birth up to term age, and in the first 3 months after term age, was positively associated with body fat percentage and waist circumference at 21 yr. Gain in weight for length in the first 3 months after term age was also positively associated with total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in early adulthood. Subjects with the highest gain in weight from birth to term age (highest quartile) had significantly higher body fat percentage, waist circumference, acute insulin response, and disposition index in early adulthood than the subgroups with moderate and low gain in weight. Rapid catch-up in weight during the first 3 months after term age resulted in a higher fat percentage, waist circumference, and serum triglycerides level than slower catch-up in weight.
Conclusion: Accelerated neonatal gain in weight relative to length after preterm birth (immediately after birth and during the first 3 months after term age) is associated with determinants of CVD in early adulthood and should therefore be avoided.