Birth weight and catch up growth are associated with childhood impulsivity in two independent cohorts

Sci Rep. 2018 Sep 12;8(1):13705. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-31816-5.


Individuals born after intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) are more impulsive towards palatable foods, but it is not clear 1) if IUGR-related impulsivity is specific for foods and solely based on response inhibition and 2) if the development of impulsivity is due to being born IUGR per se or to growing up fast in the first few years of life (catch up growth). Children were classified in the IUGR group if the birth weight ratio was below 0.85. Delta z score for BMI was used as a measure of catch up growth. In MAVAN (N = 274), impulsivity was measured by the Information Sampling Task from the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (IST - CANTAB), and in GUSTO using the Sticker Delay Task (N = 327). There is a significant effect of interaction between being born IUGR and the magnitude of catch up growth on the reflection impulsivity from IST-CANTAB at 60 months, in which greater catch up growth associates with greater impulsivity in the IST fixed condition in IUGR children. The finding was reproduced in children from the GUSTO cohort using the Sticker Delay Task. We confirmed that catch up growth interacts with IUGR, having a major role in the development of impulsivity in the first years of life and influencing inhibitory control and decision making processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Phenomena
  • Birth Weight / physiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / physiopathology*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / physiology*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male