An Attempt to Standardize the Calculation of Growth Velocity of Preterm Infants—Evaluation of Practical Bedside Methods

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To examine how well growth velocity recommendations for preterm infants fit with current growth references: Fenton 2013, Olsen 2010, INTERGROWTH 2015, and the World Health Organization Growth Standard 2006.

Study design

The Average (2-point), Exponential (2-point), Early (1-point) method weight-gains were calculated for 1,4,8,12, and 16-week time-periods. Growth references' weekly velocities (g/kg/d, gram/day and cm/week) were illustrated graphically with frequently-quoted 15 g/kg/d, 10-30 grams/day and 1 cm/week rates superimposed. The 15 g/kg/d and 1 cm/week growth velocity rates were calculated from 24-50 weeks, superimposed on the Fenton and Olsen preterm growth charts.


The Average and Exponential g/kg/d estimates showed close agreement for all ages (range 5.0-18.9 g/kg/d), while the Early method yielded values as high as 41 g/kg/d. All 3 preterm growth references were similar to 15 g/kg/d rate at 34 weeks, but rates were higher prior and lower at older ages. For gram/day, the growth references changed from 10 to 30 grams/day for 24-33 weeks. Head growth rates generally fit the 1 cm/week velocity for 23-30 weeks, and length growth rates fit for 37-40 weeks. The calculated g/kg/d curves deviated from the growth charts, first downward, then steeply crossed the median curves near term.


Human growth is not constant through gestation and early infancy. The frequently-quoted 15 g/kg/d, 10-30 gram/day and 1 cm/week only fit current growth references for limited time periods. Rates of 15-20 g/kg/d (calculated using average or exponential methods) are a reasonable goal for infants 23-36 weeks, but not beyond.

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