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Growth and somatic health until adulthood of low birthweight children
  1. Morten Duus Odberg1,2,
  2. Kristian Sommerfelt1,
  3. Trond Markestad1,
  4. Irene Bircow Elgen1
  1. 1Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  2. 2Department of Pediatrics, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Dr Morten Duus Odberg, Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Bergen, N-5021 Bergen, Norway; morten.duus.odberg{at}


Objective To compare trajectories for growth and somatic health characteristics until adulthood of non-handicapped low birthweight (LBW) and normal birthweight (NBW) children.

Study design Population-based longitudinal follow-up study.

Patients LBW (<2 kg) and NBW (>3 kg) children were followed at 5, 11 and 19 years of age. At 19 years 134 of 173 subjects with LBW (77%), and 135 of the 170 with NBW (79%) participated.

Results Current health and body mass index (BMI) were similar for the groups. The LBW adults were shorter (5.9 cm), had higher systolic (4.5 mm Hg) and diastolic (2.0 mm Hg) blood pressures (BPs), higher heart rates (3.7 beats per min), lower forced expiratory flow at 50% of forced vital capacity (8.5%) and forced expiratory volume in 1 second/forced vital capacity ratios (0.03). All p values are <0.01 for the differences of means given above. Differences in height were mostly due to differences in parental height. From childhood, percentiles for height and systolic BP were maintained for both groups while diastolic BP increased more for the LBW children. The LBW young adults caught up in body proportions.

Conclusion Difference in height and systolic BP between the LBW and NBW children tend to be maintained from childhood until young adulthood. The LBW young adults experience catch-up growth in body proportions. The LBW young adults have lower pulmonary function.

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  • Funding This work was supported financially by Western Norway Regional Health Authority, grant 911232, and with the aid of extra funds from the Norwegian Foundation for Health and Rehabilitation, grant 2004/2/0299.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Regional Committee for Medical Research Ethics in Western Norway (REK Vest).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent Obtained.