The following is a summary of “Growth Patterns of Children With Short Stature in Adulthood According to Auxological Status and Maturity at Birth,” published in the December 2022 issue of Endocrinology & Metabolism by Pfäffle, et al.

Long-term growth limitation and decreased postnatal development are risks associated with prematurity. Children born SGA, in particular, appeared to be at risk for stunted growth because around 10-15% of these kids have a persistently small height. For a study, researchers sought to identify disparities in children’s growth patterns based on sex, developmental stage, and auxological status at birth to aid in the early detection of small-for-gestational-age (SGA) infants who will have short adult height.

In two pediatric cohorts with follow-up until December 31, 2020, the growth data of 44,791 babies born between January 1, 1980, and December 30, 2012, were examined. About 5,698 kids who had birth records had measured at least twice more than their near-final height (nfh).

Preterm children (gestational age <37 weeks) showed a greater chance of nfh <third percentile (preterm, 20.5%; term, 12.2%) and a considerably lower mean nfh SDS than term children (preterm, -0.61; term, -0.18). Children born SGA also had a lower mean nfh SD score (SDS) than children born appropriate for gestational age (AGA) (SGA, −1.06; AGA, −0.15), as well as a higher risk of falling into the nfh< third percentile (SGA, 28.2%; AGA 10.1%). Around 672 (56%) of the 1,204 SGA children demonstrated effective catch-up growth (CUG) to nfh greater than or equal to the 10th percentile (SGA-CU), whereas 532 (44%) did not. The variations in their mean mid-parental height SDS (SGA-CU, -0.3; SGA-S, -1.19) can only partially account for the difference in their mean nfh SDS (SGA-CU, −0.12; SGA-S −2.26). SGA-CU demonstrated increased CUG during the first year (SGA-CU, +1.2 SDS; SGA-S, +0.45 SDS), which aids in early group discrimination.

Prematurity and auxological condition at birth impacted final growth outcome but not sex. The ability to distinguish SGA children with later normal or short stature depended on height/length SDS increments over the first year. Up to years two and three, CUG observation increased specificity, but after that, differentiation became challenging.