The Predictive Value of Head Circumference Growth during the First Year of Life on Early Child Traits

Sci Rep. 2018 Jun 29;8(1):9828. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-28165-8.


Atypical head circumference (HC) growth has been associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. However, whether it is associated with specific aspects of development in early childhood in the general population is unknown. The objective of this study was to assess the predictive value of HC growth as an early biomarker of behavioral traits. We examined longitudinal associations between HC growth from 0 to 12 months and temperament, cognitive, and motor development at 24 months. A subsample of healthy children (N = 756) was drawn from the 3D (Design, Develop, Discover) cohort study. Early HC growth was modeled with latent growth curve analysis. Greater postnatal HC growth predicted lower temperamental effortful control and lower surgency/extraversion in boys. HC growth did not predict cognitive or fine motor scores, but did predict greater gross motor skills in boys. No significant effect of HC growth was found in girls. This study is the first to demonstrate an association between postnatal HC growth and specific aspects of child development in a healthy population. Results suggest HC growth overshadows brain mechanisms involved in behavioral traits in early infancy. Whether links are maintained throughout development and the mechanisms involved correspond to traits found in atypical populations remains to be studied.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Head / growth & development*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Temperament*
  • Young Adult