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Public Health Nutr. 2002 Jun;5(3):391-6.

The effects of birth weight and postnatal linear growth retardation on body mass index, fatness and fat distribution in mid and late childhood.

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  • 1Tropical Medicine Research Institute, University of the West Indies, Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica.



To determine the effects of birth weight and early childhood stunting on body mass index (BMI), body fat and fat distribution at ages 7 and 11 years, and the change from 7 to 11 years.


Prospective cohort study


Kingston, Jamaica.


One hundred and sixteen stunted children (height-for-age below two standard deviations (<-2SD) of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) references) and 190 non-stunted children (height-for-age > -1SD), identified at age 9-24 months. The stunted group was divided into a previously stunted group (height-for-age at 11 years >or= -1SD) and a chronically stunted group (height-for-age < -1SD).


Birth weight was positively related to the children's BMI but not to measures of body fat. Birth weight was negatively associated with the subscapular/triceps skinfold (SSF/TSF) ratio at age 11 years, and to the change between 7 and 11 years. Controlling for birth weight, the chronically stunted group remained significantly smaller than the non-stunted children at both ages and increased less from 7 to 11 years in all measures except the SSF/TSF ratio, which was significantly greater at age 7 years. The previously stunted group had significantly lower BMI and percentage body fat at age 7 years than the non-stunted group. Change from 7 to 11 years was not significantly different from that of the non-stunted group except for a smaller increase in TSF. At age 11 years they had significantly lower TSF and percentage body fat.


Children stunted in early childhood had less fat and lower BMI than non-stunted children but had a more central fat distribution that was partially explained by their lower birth weights. The association between birth weight and central fat distribution developed between 7 and 11 years.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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