Catch-Up Growth and Neurobehavioral Development among Full-Term, Small-for-Gestational-Age Children: A Nationwide Japanese Population-Based Study

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To examine the relationship between catch-up growth of full-term, small for gestational age (SGA) children and their neurobehavioral development.

Study design

Data were obtained from a population-based nationwide Japanese longitudinal survey that started in 2001. Study participants were full-term children with information on height at 2 years of age (n = 32 533). Catch-up growth for SGA infants was defined as achieving a height at 2 years of age of more than -2.0 standard deviations for chronological age. Logistic regression analyses were used to estimate ORs and 95% CIs for the associations of SGA and catch-up growth status with neurobehavioral development at 2.5 and 8 years of age, adjusting for potential infant- and parent-related confounding factors.


Fifteen percent of term SGA infants failed to catch up in height. At 2.5 years of age, SGA children without catch-up growth were more likely to be unable to climb stairs (OR, 10.42; 95% CI, 5.55-19.56) and unable to compose a 2-word sentence (OR, 3.58; 95% CI, 1.81-7.08) compared with children with normal growth at birth. Furthermore, SGA children without catch-up growth were at increased risk for aggressive behaviors (OR, 3.85; 95% CI, 1.19-12.47) at 8 years of age.


Continuous follow-up for full-term SGA infants with failure of catch-up growth or poor postnatal growth may be beneficial for early detection and intervention for behavioral problems.

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