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Journal of Perinatal Medicine

Official Journal of the World Association of Perinatal Medicine

Editor-in-Chief: Dudenhausen, MD, FRCOG, Joachim W.

Ed. by Bancalari, Eduardo / Chappelle, Joseph / Chervenak, Frank A. / Genc, Mehmet R. / Greenough, Anne / Grunebaum, Amos / Konje, Justin C. / Kurjak M.D., Asim / Romero, Roberto

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Volume 39, Issue 5


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

Elaheh Ghods / Alexandra Kreissl
  • Division of Pediatric Nutrition and Prevention, Department of Pediatrics, Medical University of Vienna, Austria
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Sophie Brandstetter / Renate Fuiko / Kurt Widhalm
  • Division of Pediatric Nutrition and Prevention, Department of Pediatrics, Medical University of Vienna, Austria
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2011-07-11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jpm.2011.049


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

About the article

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

Received: 2010-06-14

Revised: 2011-03-08

Accepted: 2011-03-15

Published Online: 2011-07-11

Published Online: 2011-07-11

Published in Print: 2011-09-01

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

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