Papers

Adult outcome of normal children who are short or underweight at age 7 years

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.310.6981.696 (Published 18 March 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:696
  1. Luigi Greco, professor of paediatricsa,
  2. Chris Power, senior lecturerb,
  3. Catherine Peckham, professora
  1. a University of Naples Federico II, Via Pansini 80131 Naples, Italy
  2. b Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Institute of Child Health, London WC1 1EH
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Greco.
  • Accepted 31 January 1995

Abstract

Objectives: To evaluate the adult growth outcome (at age 23) of children who are short or underweight at age 7 years in whom no identifiable pathological cause exists for their poor growth.

Design: Longitudinal follow up of a birth cohort.

Setting: The national child development study (1958 birth cohort) of Great Britain.

Subjects: 523 children with a height or a weight below the fifth centile at age 7. Of these, 70 (13.4%) were excluded because they had a longstanding ilness that could account for their poor growth. The remaining 453 subjects, who were followed to age 23, provided the base group from which those with additional data, such as parental height, were obtained.

Results: 55/174 (31.6%) boys who were short at age 7 became short men; 60/211 (28.4%) girls who were short at age 7 became short women. Among boys who were underweight at age 7, 46/160 (28.7%) were still underweight at age 23, while 61/200 (30.5%) girls underweight at age 7 became underweight women. Having short parents did not increase the probability of being small as an adult. Children with delayed puberty were as likely to remain small as those in whom puberty was not delayed.

Conclusions: One in three normal children who was short or underweight at age 7 became a short or underweight adult. This informs the management of short children and may be valuable when prolonged growth hormone treatment for short stature is being considered.

Key messages

  • Key messages

  • Follow up of national population samples starting early in life are ideal for monitoring such outcomes and associated mediating influences

  • In this study one in three normal children who was short or underweight at age 7 became a short or underweight adult

  • Fluctuating growth patterns in childhood are likely to account for the finding that the remaining two in three children were no longer short or underweight by early adulthood

Footnotes

    • Accepted 31 January 1995
    View Full Text

    Sign in

    Log in through your institution

    Free trial

    Register for a free trial to thebmj.com to receive unlimited access to all content on thebmj.com for 14 days.
    Sign up for a free trial

    Subscribe