What is the most reliable indicator of an infant's future health status?
During their first years, infants form their habits which can influence their development and quality of life throughout their childhood and into adulthood. Therefore, it is important to monitor their growth continuously and detect any deviation from the desired growth standard as soon as possible.
In this regard, the most reliable indicators for an infant's health status are birth weight, head circumference and body mass index (BMI). The latter two are related to their nutrient intake.
The most important factor influencing the growth of an infant is their nutritional status. Incorrect nutrition can lead to malnutrition, obesity and other dietary disorders. These disorders, in turn, reduce immunity, and increase the risk of diseases such as anemia, iron deficiency, Rickets, etc.
Using the NHANES III sample of US-born infants and children aged 2 to 71 months, Davies37,38 evaluated the effects of birth weight on growth during infancy and early childhood. Growth was tracked for 51 SGA and 38 LGA infants defined as below or above the fifth and 95th percentiles, compared with 100 AGA controls. As expected, SGA infants grew faster than their AGA counterparts during the first 6 months and then maintained relatively slow growth through age 47 months. The growth of LGA infants was comparable with their AGA counterparts during this period.