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Nestle Nutr Workshop Ser Pediatr Program. 2010;65:71-9; discussion 79-83. doi: 10.1159/000281146. Epub 2010 Feb 1.

Developing world perspective: the importance of growth for short-term health.

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Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.


Recently, concern has been raised about the potential adverse long-term consequences of rapid child growth. Rapid early childhood weight gain is associated with increased likelihood of being overweight or obese later in childhood and of having risk factors for the development of chronic disease such insulin resistance and elevated blood pressure. This has led to concerns about the wisdom of promoting catch-up growth in infants born small for gestational age or in children with poor growth after birth. In considering the costs and benefits of promoting catch-up growth, we must not lose sight of the immediate health threats to children in resource-poor environments in developing countries where child morbidity and mortality remain high. The literature on short-term consequences of growth is limited by its focus on attained size as an indicator of prior nutritional status, but generally shows that children with evidence of poor prior growth are at greater risk of morbidity and mortality from common infectious diseases, including lower respiratory infections and diarrhea. In these settings, failure to promote compensatory growth may have devastating short-term consequences.

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