Health impact of catch-up growth in low-birth weight infants : systematic review, evidence appraisal, and meta-anaylsis

Martin, Anne and Connelly, Andrew and Bland, Ruth M and Reilly, John (2016) Health impact of catch-up growth in low-birth weight infants : systematic review, evidence appraisal, and meta-anaylsis. Maternal and Child Nutrition. ISSN 1740-8709 (

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This study aimed to systematically review and appraise evidence on the short-term (e.g. morbidity, mortality) and long-term (obesity and non-communicable diseases, NCDs) health consequences of catch-up growth (versus no catch-up growth) in individuals with a history of low birth weight (LBW).We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, Global Health, CINAHL plus, Cochrane Library, ProQuest Dissertations and Thesis, and reference lists. Study quality was assessed using the risk of bias assessment tool from the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, and the evidence base was assessed using the GRADE tool. Eight studies in 7 cohorts (2 from high-income countries, 5 from low-middle income countries) met the inclusion criteria for short-term (mean age: 13.4 months) and/or longer-term (mean age: 11.1 years) health outcomes of catch-up growth which had occurred by 24 or 59 months. Of 5 studies on short-term health outcomes, 3 found positive associations between weight catch-up growth and body mass and/or glucose metabolism; 1 suggested reduced risk of hospitalisation and mortality with catch-up growth. Three studies on longer-term health outcomes found catch-up growth was associated with higher body mass, BMI, or cholesterol. GRADE assessment suggested that evidence quantity and quality were low. Catch-up growth following LBW may have benefits for the individual with LBW in the short term, and may have adverse population health impacts in the long-term, but the evidence is limited. Future cohort studies could address the question of the consequences of catch-up growth following LBW more convincingly, with a view to informing future prevention of obesity and NCDs.