Fetal and Early Infant Growth Linked to Persistent Body Fat Patterns

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Vincent W. V. Jaddoe, MD, PhDAdjunct Professor of EpidemiologyDepartment of Epidemiology

Dr. Jaddoe

Vincent W. V. Jaddoe, MD, PhD
Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology
Department of Epidemiology

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Childhood body fat may be affected by patterns of fetal and infant weight change. Children born small for gestational age (SGA) tend to have infant growth acceleration, whereas those born large for gestational age (LGA) tend to have infant growth deceleration. Little is known about fetal and infant growth patterns affecting visceral, liver, and pericardial fat, which are strongly associated with cardiometabolic disease in later life.

We assessed in a large population cohort study whether fetal and infant weight change was associated with not only general, but also organ fat at school age. We observed that fetal and infant weight change patterns were both associated with childhood body fat, but weight change patterns in infancy tended to have larger effects. Fetal growth restriction followed by infant growth acceleration was associated with increased visceral and liver fat. 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Growth in fetal life and early infancy may have persistent effects on body fat development. Children wjho experienced fetal growth restriction followed by infant growth acceleration have increased visceral and liver fat, which are both known to be strongly related with cardio-metabolic disease in later life.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Studies on maternal and infant factors influencing growth and subsequent body fat development are urgently needed to prevent adverse fat development from early childhood onwards. 


Vogelezang S, Santos S, Toemen L, Oei EHG, Felix JF, Jaddoe VWV. Associations of Fetal and Infant Weight Change With General, Visceral, and Organ Adiposity at School Age. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(4):e192843. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.2843 


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