Infant Growth and Long-term Cardiometabolic Health: a Review of Recent Findings

  • Jessica G. WooEmail author
Maternal and Childhood Nutrition (AC Wood, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Maternal and Childhood Nutrition


Purpose of Review

Infant weight gain is recognized to increase obesity risk across the lifespan. This review evaluates recent evidence relating growth in infancy to childhood, adolescent and adult body composition, and cardiometabolic risk factors.

Recent Findings

Greater weight or BMI gains in infancy increase both fat mass and fat-free mass in later life, but may preferentially contribute to central adiposity. Impacts of infant growth on cardiometabolic health are mixed, and most findings are attenuated after adjusting for current body size.


Infant weight gain, length gain, and BMI changes are important in establishing risk for cardiometabolic health across the lifespan. Infant growth effects on cardiometabolic health may be indirect, acting through changes in obesity risk or body composition.


Catch-up growth Infant weight gain Body composition Lipids Insulin Blood pressure 



Air-displacement plethysmography (Pea Pod or Bod Pod)


Appropriate for gestational age


Age at infant BMI peak


Area under the curve


Abdominal ultrasound


Bioelectrical impedance


Body mass index


BMI at infant BMI peak


US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Carotid intima media thickness


Developmental Origins of Health and Disease


Dual x-ray absorptiometry


Fat-free mass


Fat-free mass index


Fat mass


Fat mass index


First-phase insulin response


Impaired fasting glucose


Low birth weight


Left ventricular


Metabolic syndrome


Magnetic resonance imaging


Not assessed/not available


Post-menstrual age


Pre-peak weight velocity


Subcutaneous adipose tissue


Standard deviation score (z-score)


Skinfold thicknesses


Small for gestational age


Superimposition by Translation and Rotation


Sum of skinfold thicknesses


Type 2 diabetes


Total body water, assessed by deuterium excretion


Visceral adipose tissue


Very low birth weight


Whole-body insulin sensitivity index


World Health Organization


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Jessica G. Woo declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All reported studies/experiments with human or animal subjects performed by the authors have been previously published and complied with all applicable ethical standards (including the Helsinki declaration and its amendments, institutional/national research committee standards, and international/national/institutional guidelines).


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Biostatistics and EpidemiologyCincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical CenterCincinnatiUSA
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsUniversity of Cincinnati College of MedicineCincinnatiUSA

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