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Preschool children born moderately preterm have increased waist circumference at two years of age despite low body mass index.

Journal article
Authors Josefine Roswall
Ann-Katrine Karlsson
Kerstin Allvin
Gerd Almqvist-Tangen
S Bergman
Aimon Niklasson
Bernt Alm
Jovanna Dahlgren
Published in Acta paediatrica (Oslo, Norway : 1992)
Volume 101
Issue 11
Pages 1175-1181
ISSN 0803-5253
Publication year 2012
Published at Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Pediatrics
Pages 1175-1181
Language en
Keywords Metabolic syndrome; Prematurity; Waist circumference; Waist-to-height ratio
Subject categories Pediatrics


Aim:  To investigate the development of waist circumference (WC) in preschool children born preterm compared with a population-based reference. Background:  Children born preterm are reported to be insulin resistant, despite being lean during early childhood. We hypothesize that the mechanism is through increased visceral adiposity. Methods:  Data from 4446 preschool children (2169 girls/2277 boys) born in 2001-2006 from a population-based study were compared with longitudinal measurements of body mass index (BMI) and WC from a cohort of 152 children (64 girls/88 boys) born moderately preterm in 2002-2004 (gestational age, 32-37 weeks). Results:  In the preterm children, the mean WC was 2.8 cm larger compared with the reference group (p < 0.001) at 2 years of age but not at 5 years of age. There was no significant difference in the mean BMI at 2 years of age. The preterm group was significantly leaner at 5 years of age, with a mean BMI of 15.13 compared with 15.98 in the reference group (p < 0.001). Conclusion:  Children born moderately preterm present as lean during early childhood but have an increased waist circumference in infancy, pointing towards a change in fat distribution with more abdominal fat. This may have implications for their metabolic status.

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