Weight Status in the First 6 Months of Life and Obesity at 3 Years of Age

A study of weight status in early childhood found that high weight-for-length (WFL) at birth and six months translated to higher Body Mass Index (BMI) at 3 years of age. 

The authors of this report collected data as part of a three-year follow-up to Project Viva, a major study of pregnancy outcomes. The intent of the follow-up study was to detect any association between weight gain during infancy and levels of obesity at 3 years of age. 

Previous studies did not combine weight and height measurements, which together give a more accurate picture of obesity. Researchers used sums of two measures of skin-fold thickness to determine levels of obesity and adiposity at age 3. Weight status calculations were age and gender specific. Results were independent of several compounding factors including smoking during pregnancy and maternal pre-pregnancy BMI.

Key Findings:

  • Children in the highest quartile of WFL at birth had higher levels of BMI at three years old.
  • Children with higher six-month WFL were more likely to have mothers with higher pre-pregnancy BMI levels.

Participants in this study were from relatively high socioeconomic levels. Future studies might examine the role of social and behavioral interactions affecting infant diet.