Breastfeeding and catch-up growth in infants born small for gestational age

Acta Paediatr. 1997 Jun;86(6):564-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.1997.tb08935.x.


Postnatal growth was prospectively measured from birth to 1 y in 54 term infants born small for gestational age (SGA), fed either breast milk or a standard term infant formula. Breastfeeding was associated with a 0.36 and 0.64 standard deviation (SD) increase in weight at 2 weeks and 3 months of age, respectively, which persisted beyond the breastfeeding period (0.64 SD at 1 y). Breastfed infants also showed greater catch-up growth in head circumference [SD score (SDS) 0.53 higher at 3 months], and greater body length gain (SDS 0.68 higher at 6 months). This increased growth was independent of potentially confounding obstetric, social and demographic factors. Our findings suggest that breastfeeding may promote faster growth in infants compromised by poor growth in utero. SGA infants may be programmed for a number of adverse outcomes; the possibility that such events are altered by choice of postnatal diet is a key issue for future research.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry
  • Birth Weight
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Child Development*
  • Female
  • Food, Formulated
  • Gestational Age*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Weight Gain