Body Composition Changes from Infancy to 4 Years and Associations with Early Childhood Cognition in Preterm and Full-Term Children

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33 Scopus citations


Background: Infants born prematurely are at risk for neurodevelopmental complications. Early growth is associated with improved later cognition. The relationship of early proportionality and body composition with later cognition is not well established. Objectives: To assess differences in fat-free mass and adiposity (fat mass, percent body fat) changes in preterm and full-term infants through preschool age and examine associations with early childhood cognition. Methods: This is a prospective, observational study in an appropriate for gestational age cohort of 71 patients (20 preterm and 51 full-term) from infancy through preschool age. Anthropometric and body composition measurements via air displacement plethysmography were obtained during infancy at term and 3-4 months (preterm corrected ages), and at 4 years. Cognitive testing occurred at 4 years. Associations of body composition changes between visits with cognitive function were tested using linear regression. Results: In the preterm group, higher term to 4-month corrected age percent body fat gains were associated with lower working memory performance (p = 0.01), and higher 4-month corrected age to 4-year fat-free mass gains were associated with higher full-scale IQ (p = 0.03) and speed of processing performance (p ≤ 0.02). In the full-term group, higher 4-month to 4-year fat mass gains were associated with lower full-scale IQ (p = 0.03). Conclusions: Body composition gains during different time periods are associated with varying areas of cognitive function. These findings may inform interventions aimed at optimal growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-176
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 S. Karger AG, Basel.


  • Adiposity
  • Body composition
  • Executive function
  • Growth, fat-free mass
  • Intelligence quotient
  • Neurodevelopmental outcome
  • Premature neonates
  • Processing speed


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