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Journal of Perinatal Medicine

Official Journal of the World Association of Perinatal Medicine

Editor-in-Chief: Dudenhausen, Joachim W.

Editorial Board Member: / Bancalari, Eduardo / Greenough, Anne / Genc, Mehmet R. / Chervenak, Frank A. / Chappelle, Joseph / Bergmann, Renate L. / Bernardes, J.F. / Bevilacqua, G. / Blickstein, Isaac / Cabero Roura, Luis / Carbonell-Estrany, Xavier / Carrera, Jose M. / D`Addario, Vincenzo / D'Alton, MD, Mary E. / Dimitrou, G. / Grunebaum, Amos / Hentschel, Roland / Köpcke, W. / Kawabata, Ichiro / Keirse, M.J.M.C. / Kurjak M.D., Asim / Lee, Ben H. / Levene, Malcolm / Lockwood, Charles J. / Marsal, Karel / Makatsariya, Alexander / Nishida, Hiroshi / Papp, Zoltán / Pejaver, Ranjan Kumar / Pooh, Ritsuko K. / Romero, Roberto / Saugstad, Ola D. / Schenker, Joseph G. / Sen, Cihat / Seri, Istvan / Vetter, Klaus / Winn, Hung N. / Young, Bruce K. / Zimmermann, Roland

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Head circumference catch-up growth among preterm very low birth weight infants: effect on neurodevelopmental outcome

1 / Alexandra Kreissl1 / Sophie Brandstetter2 / Renate Fuiko3 / Kurt Widhalm1

1Division of Pediatric Nutrition and Prevention, Department of Pediatrics, Medical University of Vienna, Austria

2Department for Neonatology and General Pediatrics, Medical University of Vienna, Austria

3Division of Psychology, Department of Pediatrics, Medical University of Vienna, Austria

Corresponding author: Elaheh Ghods Division of Pediatric Nutrition and Prevention Department of Pediatrics Medical University of Vienna Austria Tel.: +43-01-404002337 Fax: +43-01-404002338

Citation Information: Journal of Perinatal Medicine. Volume 39, Issue 5, Pages 579–586, ISSN (Online) 1619-3997, ISSN (Print) 0300-5577, DOI: 10.1515/jpm.2011.049, July 2011

Publication History

Published Online:


Aims: The purpose of this study was to determine whether head circumference (HC) catch-up is associated with improved neurocognitive development.

Design: A retrospective cohort study was conducted in 179 preterm very low birth weight (VLBW) (BW≤1500 g) infants. The infants were born in 2000–2002 and were followed to the age of 5.5 years. The association between HC catch-up and neurodevelopmental outcome was assessed and perinatal risk factors, infant characteristics and nutritional practices associated with HC catch-up were determined.

Results: HC catch-up occurred in 59 (34%) infants and was positively correlated with neurodevelopmental outcome. The likelihood of HC catch-up increased with increasing birth weight and gestational age. HC catch-up occurred more often with breast milk feeding during hospitalization and with supplemental formula feeding at discharge, but decreased in prevalence with longer duration of breastfeeding after discharge. HC catch-up was more likely to occur in first-born infants and in families with high socioeconomic status. Most HC catch-up occurred between birth and three months corrected age.

Conclusion: Among preterm-VLBW infants, there is a close relation between HC growth and neurodevelopmental outcome. Efforts to improve neurocognitive outcomes should focus on factors associated with HC catch-up.

Keywords: Breast milk feeding; catch-up growth; neurocognitive outcome; preterm; preterm formula; very low birth weight

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