Extremely and very preterm-born children <1500 g show different weight development in childhood compared to their peers

Acta Paediatr. 2021 Jul;110(7):2093-2099. doi: 10.1111/apa.15785. Epub 2021 Feb 11.


Aim: To develop reference growth charts for body mass index (BMI), weight, length and head circumference in children born extremely preterm (EPT) or very preterm (VPT) with a birth weight <1500 g.

Methods: We analysed EPT and VPT children from the German Neonatal Network born between 2009 and 2013 without chronic diseases or medications influencing growth. These data of EPT and VPT datasets were split into a training dataset and a validation dataset. In the validation dataset, data from 385 EPT and 491 VPT children from birth to age 6 years were analysed to calculate growth charts.

Results: The percentiles of length of EPT and VPT children were comparable to German reference percentiles. The BMI peak in infancy was attenuated, and BMI was lower in all the EPT and VPT children analysed. From 2 years until 6 years of age, head circumference was lower in EPT and VPT boys and girls.

Conclusion: Deficits in height described in EPT cohorts born during the 1980 s and 1990 s were not seen in our cohort. However, EPT and VPT born children showed growth patterns that differed from national reference curves for BMI. The growth charts provided here can be used to judge the growth of EPT and VPT born children.

Keywords: body mass index; head circumference; infant; length; premature; weight.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Cephalometry
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Extremely Premature*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Parturition*
  • Pregnancy