Fetal and infant growth and the risk of obesity during early childhood: The generation R study
Objective: To examine whether infant growth rates are influenced by fetal growth characteristics and are associated with the risks of overweight and obesity in early childhood. Design: This study was embedded in the Generation R Study, a population-based prospective cohort study from fetal life onward. Methods: Fetal growth characteristics (femur length (FL) and estimated fetal weight (EFW)) were assessed in the second and third trimesters and at birth (length and weight). Infant peak weight velocity (PWV), peak height velocity (PHV), and body mass index at adiposity peak (BMIAP) were derived for 6267 infants with multiple height and weight measurements. Results: EFW measured during the second trimester was positively associated with PWV and BMIAP during infancy. Subjects with a smaller weight gain between the third trimester and birth had a higher PWV. FL measured during the second trimester was positively associated with PHV. Gradual length gain between the second and third trimesters and between the third trimester and birth were associated with higher PHV. Compared with infants in the lowest quintile, the infants in the highest quintile of PWV had strongly increased risks of overweight/obesity at the age of 4 years (odds ratio (95% confidence interval): 15.01 (9.63, 23.38)). Conclusion: Fetal growth characteristics strongly influence infant growth rates. A higher PWV, which generally occurs in the first month after birth, was associated with an increased risk of overweight and obesity at 4 years of age. Longer follow-up studies are necessary to determine how fetal and infant growth patterns affect the risk of disease in later life.