To investigate the association between birth weight, infant growth rate, and childhood adiposity as a proxy for adult metabolic or cardiovascular risk in a Chinese population with a history of recent and rapid economic development.
Prospective study in a population-representative birth cohort.
Hong Kong Chinese population.
Six thousand seventy-five term births (77.5% successful follow-up).
Birth weight and growth rate (change in the weight z score) at ages 0 to 3 and 3 to 12 months.
Main Outcome Measure
Body mass index (BMI) (calculated as the weight in kilograms divided by the height in meters squared) z score at about age 7 years.
Each unit increase in the weight z score at ages 0 to 3 and 3 to 12 months increased the BMI z score by 0.52 and 0.33, respectively. Children in the highest birth weight and growth rate tertiles had the highest BMI z scores. In the lowest birth weight tertile, increases in the weight z score at ages 0 to 3 months had a larger effect on the BMI z score in boys (mean difference, 0.88; 95% confidence interval 0.69-1.07) than in girls (mean difference, 0.52; 95% confidence interval, 0.33-0.71); these differences by birth weight, growth rate at ages 0 to 3 months, and sex were significant (P = .007).
Faster prenatal and postnatal growth were associated with higher childhood BMI in a population with a recent history of rapid economic growth and relatively low birth weight, suggesting that maximal growth may not be optimal for metabolic risk. However, there may be a developmental trade-off between metabolic risk and other outcomes.