Objective: Infants classified as small for gestational age are considered as having developed under adverse intrauterine conditions that lead to lack of fat mass accretion.
Aim of the study was to test the null hypothesis that the fat mass in preterm small for gestational age infants assessed at term equivalent age was not different from that of full-term small for gestational age newborns.
Design: Observational study.
Setting: Northern Italy.
Patients: 67 small for gestational age preterm infants and 132 small for gestational age full-term newborns.
Main outcome measures: Growth and body composition, assessed by means of a pediatric air displacement plethysmography system, were measured at term equivalent age in the preterm infants and on the third day of life in the full-term newborns.
Results: Mean gestational age and birth weight of preterm infants were 30.6 (2.3) weeks and 1140 (237) g, respectively. At assessment weight was not different between the preterm and full-term infants, whereas the percentage of total body fat mass was higher in the preterm infants [14.3 (4.7) vs 5.8 (3.5), P< 0,005)].
Conclusions: The preterm infants, born small for gestational age, appear to be at risk for increased adiposity, which is a risk factor for the development of the metabolic syndrome.
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