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Can body mass index accurately predict adiposity in newborns?
  1. Angela De Cunto1,
  2. Giulia Paviotti1,
  3. Luca Ronfani2,
  4. Laura Travan1,
  5. Jenny Bua1,
  6. Gabriele Cont1,
  7. Sergio Demarini1
  1. 1Division of Neonatology, Institute for Maternal and Child Health—IRCCS “Burlo Garofolo”, Trieste, Italy
  2. 2Epidemiology and Statistics Unit, Institute for Maternal and Child Health—IRCCS “Burlo Garofolo”, Trieste, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Giulia Paviotti, Division of Neonatology, Institute for Maternal and Child Health—IRCCS ‘Burlo Garofolo’ Via dell'Istria 65/1, Trieste 34137, Italy; giupav{at}


Body mass index (BMI) is correlated with body fatness and risk of related diseases in children and adults. Proportionality indexes such as BMI and ponderal index (PI) have been suggested as complementary measures in neonatal growth assessment. Yet, they are still not used in neonates and their correlation with fatness is unknown. The aim of the study was to test the hypothesis that BMI z-score would predict neonatal adiposity.

Body composition measurements (ie, fat mass, fat-free mass) by air displacement plethysmography (PEA POD, LMI, Concord-USA), weight and length were obtained in 200 infants ≥36 weeks’ gestational age (GA) at birth. Linear regression analysis showed a direct association between BMI z-score and %fat mass (r2=0.43, p<0.0001). This association was confirmed independently from sex, GA and maternal prepregnancy BMI. BMI z-score predicted adiposity better than PI. However, both BMI z-score and PI were poor predictors of adiposity at birth.

  • Neonatology
  • Nutrition

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