Growth outcome and feeding practices of the very low birth weight infant (less than 1500 grams) within the first year of life

J Pediatr. 1990 Aug;117(2 Pt 2):S156-66. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(05)80014-9.


Growth outcome for 1 year of corrected age and feeding practices during that first year of life were described for a large population of very low birth weight (VLBW) infants. Growth patterns of weight, length, and occipitofrontal circumference through 12 months of corrected age, and weight/length ratios at 12 months, were determined for 122 VLBW infants less than or equal to 1500 gm and less than or equal to 35 weeks of gestational age at birth; feeding practices were surveyed within a subpopulation of 89 infants. Differences in growth were apparent when infants were grouped according to sex and appropriateness of intrauterine growth. When the mean values of each group were compared, the female infants of appropriate size for gestational age demonstrated growth at higher percentiles (National Center for Health Statistics term-infant norms) for all three measurements (weight, length, and occipitofrontal circumference). Male infants whose size was appropriate for gestational age, and male and female infants who were small for gestational age, all grew similarly, at lower percentiles for weight and length, when compared with the same norms. Growth in occipitofrontal circumference was closest to term infant norms in all subgroups of infants. The majority of the infants, regardless of subgroup, achieved weights and lengths greater than 5th percentile and proportionate growth with a normal weight/length ratio. At 12 months of corrected age, 30% remained at less than 5th percentile in weight, 21% in length, and 14% in occipitofrontal circumference. Eighteen infants (15%) had a marked discrepancy in weight for length, with a weight/length ratio less than 5th percentile. Three prevalent practices that could result in compromised nutrition were identified: (1) cereals were introduced at an early age, (2) 2% and skim cow milk were fed to approximately 50% of the infants within the first year of life, and (3) whole cow milk was introduced to some VLBW infants at an early age. Caretakers apparently viewed their infants in terms of chronologic age rather than age corrected for prematurity when it came to the initiation of solids and cow milk. Whether increased attention to appropriate feeding practices during the first year of life would result in a more favorable growth outcome for VLBW infants is not known.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Head / anatomy & histology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Food*
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight / growth & development*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / growth & development*
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age / growth & development*
  • Male
  • Milk
  • Weight Gain