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Obesity in prematurely born children and adolescents: follow up in pediatric clinic

Tetyana L Vasylyeva1*, Apurv Barche1, Sudha P Chennasamudram1, Christopher Sheehan1, Ruchi Singh1 and Michael E Okogbo2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pediatrics, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Amarillo, Texas, USA

2 Department of Pediatrics, Scott & White/Texas A&M College of Medicine Temple, Texas, USA

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Nutrition Journal 2013, 12:150  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-150

Published: 19 November 2013



Understanding associated risk for obesity is a prerequisite to develop early life interventions to arrest the increasing epidemic of metabolic syndrome and obesity among preterm born children and adolescents.


A retrospective review of 160 charts was conducted to determine the associated risk of being obese during childhood and adolescent period in preterm children. Birth weight, gestational age, weight gain, demographics, maternal health, socioeconomics, and clinical factors during early neonatal life were evaluated. The number of obese children increased with age and was observed more in the adolescent population. Obese children were significantly heavier at age 24 months old compared to their peers (p = 0.001). Analysis of associated risk for maternal demographics, maternal age, maternal marital status or race, prenatal factors, maternal substance abuse or diabetes, neonatal factors, weight for gestational age or birth weight did not show any statistically significant risk for future obesity. Duration of gestational age (OR 1.6; p = 0.017) and heavier birth weight (OR 3.2; p = 0.001) were associated with risk of obesity.


Among preterm born babies in the study, the highest risk of developing excessive weight during childhood and adolescent periods are babies born at more advanced gestational age. Strong positive association was found between birth weight and body weight in childhood. By 24 months old, there was a distinguished group of toddlers, who were heavier than their peers and remained with excessive weight as they got older. Primary care pediatricians should draw attention to premature babies, overweight infants and toddlers.

Obesity; Prematurity; Low birth weight; Large for gestational age; Postnatal care