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Matern Child Health J. 2013 Apr;17(3):512-9. doi: 10.1007/s10995-012-1025-8.

Associated factors for accelerated growth in childhood: a systematic review.

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Federal University of Pelotas, Pelotas, Brazil.


Several studies have shown that accelerated growth in the postnatal period is critical for the development of chronic diseases. The term catch-up has been used for the accelerated growth of children who have suffered some sort of restriction of nutrition or oxygen supply. However, accelerated growth has been observed among children who have an appropriate birth weight for their gestational age (AGA) and with no apparent morbidity. Therefore, this systematic review was carried out on the associated factors of accelerated growth, or catch-up, using the Medline/Pubmed database. Only cohort studies written in Portuguese, English or Spanish, with children between zero and 12 years old who presented accelerated growth or catch-up as the outcome were included. Out of the 2,155 articles found, 9 were selected. There is no uniformity in the operational definition of accelerated growth, or in the concept of catch-up. According to this review, accelerated growth is associated with primiparity, maternal smoking during pregnancy, lower birth weight, and early weaning. The main limitations in the available literature are the high number of follow-up losses and the lack of control for confounding factors. The determinants of accelerated growth still need to be studied further, especially among AGA children.

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