Infant weight gain likely to cause childhood obesity

March 30th, 2009 - 4:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 30 (IANS) Researchers have found that rapid weight gain during the first six months of life may place a child at risk for obesity by age of three.
“There is increasing evidence that rapid changes in weight during infancy increase children’s risk of later obesity,” said co-author Elsie Taveras, assistant professor in the Harvard Medical School (HMS) Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention.

“The mounting evidence suggests that infancy may be a critical period during which to prevent childhood obesity and its related consequences.”

The team studied patterns of weight gain in infancy and their subsequent three-year effect on 559 mother-child pairs. They also looked at weight gain as a dynamic process, measuring not only how much but how quickly an infant gained weight.

The connection between rapid infant weight gain and later obesity was striking, even after adjusting for factors such as premature babies or those underweight at birth, said an HMS release.

Take for example two infants with the same birth weight who, after six months, weigh 7.7 kg and 8.4 kg, a 0.7 kg difference. According to study estimates, the heavier of these two infants would have a 40 percent higher risk of obesity at age three.

These findings are slated to appear in the April edition of Paediatrics.

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