Newborn length predicts early infant linear growth retardation and disproportionately high weight gain in a low-income population

Early Hum Dev. 2013 Dec;89(12):967-72. doi: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2013.09.008. Epub 2013 Sep 29.


Background: Stunting is prevalent by the age of 6 months in the indigenous population of the Western Highlands of Guatemala.

Aim: The objective of this study was to determine the time course and predictors of linear growth failure and weight-for-age in early infancy.

Study design and subjects: One hundred and forty eight term newborns had measurements of length and weight in their homes, repeated at 3 and 6 months. Maternal measurements were also obtained.

Results: Mean ± SD length-for-age Z-score (LAZ) declined from newborn -1.0 ± 1.01 to -2.20 ± 1.05 and -2.26 ± 1.01 at 3 and 6 months respectively. Stunting rates for newborn, 3 and 6 months were 47%, 53% and 56% respectively. A multiple regression model (R(2) = 0.64) demonstrated that the major predictor of LAZ at 3 months was newborn LAZ with the other predictors being newborn weight-for-age Z-score (WAZ), gender and maternal education∗maternal age interaction. Because WAZ remained essentially constant and LAZ declined during the same period, weight-for-length Z-score (WLZ) increased from -0.44 to +1.28 from birth to 3 months. The more severe the linear growth failure, the greater WAZ was in proportion to the LAZ.

Conclusion: The primary conclusion is that impaired fetal linear growth is the major predictor of early infant linear growth failure indicating that prevention needs to start with maternal interventions.

Keywords: AIC; Akaike Information Criterion; Birth weight; IFS; IUGR; Infant growth; LAZ; LMP; Linear growth; Predictors of infant growth; SES; VIF; WAZ; WLZ; intra-uterine growth retardation; iron folate supplement; last menstrual period; length-for-age Z-score; socio-economic status; variance inflation factor; weight-for-age Z-score; weight-for-length Z-score.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Body Size
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Growth Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Guatemala
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Population Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data*
  • Weight Gain / physiology*