Relationship between prenatal growth, postnatal growth and childhood obesity: a review

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Evidence is accumulating that obesity risks become established early in life. The goal of this systematic review is to assess whether there is evidence that rapid postnatal growth holds different implications for childhood obesity risks for children who experienced different patterns of prenatal growth. We conducted systematic database searches in PubMed and Embase in October 2014 for studies assessing the implications of prenatal and postnatal growth for childhood obesity. The 18 studies meeting inclusion criteria indicated that risks of obesity increased with birthweight; risks of obesity also increased with rapid postnatal growth for children across the birthweight distribution. Fifteen studies indicated that rapid postnatal growth is linearly associated with obesity for children and adolescents of all sizes at birth, with no interaction effect. Three studies reported interaction effects with postnatal growth, conferring additional increased risk of obesity among children and adolescents who were small at birth. Both prenatal and postnatal growth are important risk factors for obesity, and their combined effects should be analyzed further to understand how obesity risks develop early in life.

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