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Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Oct;72(4):1010-7.

Infant growth patterns in the slums of Dhaka in relation to birth weight, intrauterine growth retardation, and prematurity.

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  • 1International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B), Dhaka, Bangladesh.



Relations between size and maturity at birth and infant growth have been studied inadequately in Bangladesh, where the incidence of low birth weight is high and most infants are breast-fed.


This study was conducted to describe infant growth patterns and their relations to birth weight, intrauterine growth retardation, and prematurity.


A total of 1654 infants born in selected low-socioeconomic areas of Dhaka, Bangladesh, were enrolled at birth. Weight and length were measured at birth and at 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 mo of age.


The infants' mean birth weight was 2516 g, with 46.4% weighing <2500 g; 70% were small for gestational age (SGA) and 17% were premature. Among the SGA infants, 63% had adequate ponderal indexes. The mean weight of the study infants closely tracked the -2 SD curve of the World Health Organization pooled breast-fed sample. Weight differences by birth weight, SGA, or preterm categories were retained throughout infancy. Mean z scores based on the pooled breast-fed sample were -2.38, -1. 72, and -2.34 at birth, 3 mo, and 12 mo. Correlation analysis showed greater plasticity of growth in the first 3 mo of life than later in the first year.


Infant growth rates were similar to those observed among breast-fed infants in developed countries. Most study infants experienced chronic intrauterine undernourishment. Catch-up growth was limited and weight at 12 mo was largely a function of weight at birth. Improvement of birth weight is likely to lead to significant gains in infant nutritional status in this population, although interventions in the first 3 mo are also likely to be beneficial.

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