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Circulation. 2005 Apr 19;111(15):1897-903.

Weight gain in the first week of life and overweight in adulthood: a cohort study of European American subjects fed infant formula.

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Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 36th St and Civic Center Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4399, USA.



Successful prevention of obesity and related cardiovascular risk factors requires a clear understanding of its determinants over the life course. Rapid infancy weight gain is associated with childhood obesity, whereas low infancy weight is associated with coronary heart disease. Our aim was to identify during which periods in infancy weight gain is associated with adult obesity.


A cohort of European American formula-fed subjects, measured on 7 occasions during infancy as part of several infant formula studies, were contacted at age 20 to 32 years, when they reported usual adult weight and height. A life-course plot was used to identify critical periods of weight gain associated with adulthood overweight (body mass index > or =25 kg/m2). These associations were tested with logistic regressions. Data were available for 653 subjects (72% of eligible subjects). Approximately 32% of them were overweight adults. The period between birth and age 8 days was identified as potentially critical. After adjustment for important confounding factors, weight gain during the first week of life was associated with adulthood overweight status (OR for each 100-g increase 1.28, 95% CI 1.08 to 1.52), as was weight gain during the first 112 days of life (OR 1.04, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.08). Similar results were obtained after standardization with z scores from a reference population.


In formula-fed infants, weight gain during the first week of life may be a critical determinant for the development of obesity several decades later. These results contribute to the understanding of chronic disease programming and suggest new approaches to obesity prevention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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