Catch-Up Growth and Metabolic and Cognitive Outcomes in Adolescents Born Preterm
The worldwide rate of premature birth is increasing. Survival has also improved, even for very preterm infants, meaning greater numbers of preterm infants surviving into later life. This has led to greater attention being focused on long-term outcomes. Recent interest in the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease has highlighted the importance of early life growth and nutritional exposures for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes. There is evidence linking preterm birth and poor growth in utero with worse long-term cognitive outcome, but also evidence to link more rapid growth in certain epochs of early life with adverse metabolic outcomes. The current data suggest that a diverse range of metabolic outcomes are affected by preterm birth, and that adult survivors may be more likely to develop certain chronic diseases. There are data to show that catch-up growth during the neonatal period and in infancy may affect these later outcomes, but studies are inconsistent in their findings. In addition, it is clear that lifestyle factors during childhood and adolescence have a major impact on metabolic disease that may be greater in magnitude to the effects of early growth and nutritional exposures.