The following is a summary of “Growth During Infancy After Extremely Preterm Birth: Associations with Later Neurodevelopmental and Health Outcomes,” published in the JANUARY 2023 issue of Pediatrics by O’Shea, et al.

For a study, researchers sought to examine links between changes in weight, length, and the weight/length ratio throughout infancy and outcomes later in life for those born extremely preterm.

They monitored weight and length among participants in the Extremely Low Gestational Age Newborn (ELGAN) research at the time of their discharge from the newborn intensive care unit (NICU), at age 2, and at ages 10 and 15 in addition to assessing their neurocognitive, psychiatric, and health outcomes. Using multivariable logistic regression, they calculated correlations between weight, length, and weight/length ratio z-score increases between discharge and two years and outcomes at ten and fifteen years. The low gain was referred to as the bottom quintile of change, and the high gain as the top quintile.

At 10 years, but not at 15 years, high weight and weight/length growth were linked to higher probabilities of obesity. Only females were found to have these relationships. Low probabilities of obesity at age 15 were connected with high gains in length z-score. High gains in weight/length were associated with a decreased risk of cognitive impairment at age 10 years, which was the sole connection between high gains in growth parameters and better neurocognitive or psychiatric outcomes.

Females born extremely preterm with high weight/length or weight increases had a higher risk of obesity at 10, but not at 15, over the two years following NICU release. Newborns with large growth increases in the two years following NICU release experience middle childhood and adolescence with neurocognitive and mental outcomes comparable to infants with lower weight and weight/length gains.