Researchers from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Iowa studied 653 adults, ranging in age from 20 to 32. The subjects, all of whom were white, had been measured as newborns while participating in infant formula studies in Iowa. Those who had gained weight more rapidly during their first week were significantly more likely to be overweight decades later.
The research appears in the April 19 issue of Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association.
"Our main finding was that rapid weight gain during the first week of life in this population of healthy, European-American, formula-fed infants was associated with being overweight two to three decades later," said lead author Nicolas Stettler, M.D., M.S.C.E., a pediatric nutrition specialist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "It suggests that there may be a critical period in that first week during which the body's physiology may be programmed to develop chronic disease throughout life."
"Our findings also point toward new potential targets for preventing obesity," he added. "If these results are confirmed by other studies, they may lead to interventions in newborns to help prevent long-term development of obesity." Dr. Stettler explained, however, that such interventions have not yet been developed, and it is premature to make recommendations about specific targets for optimum weight gain.
"Normal weight gain is desirable for infants," he added. "Babies double their birth weight during the first four to six months. During the first week of life, however, a too-rapid gain in weight may increase the risk of future weight problems." After adjustin
Contact: Joey Marie McCool
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia