Postnatal catch-up growth in infants born small for gestational age has been reported to occur mainly during the initial 3-9 months of life. The study presented here characterized early postnatal growth in healthy, full-term infants born short for gestational age (GA) ( < -2 standard deviation scores [SDS] in birth length) in two populations. Results from a longitudinal growth study from birth to final height of 139 infants born short for GA between 1973 and 1975 in Göteborg, Sweden, were compared with results from an ongoing detailed prospective 6-month follow-up of 41 Hong Kong Chinese infants born short for GA in 1995 and 1996. For both populations, height was expressed in SDS using the updated Swedish growth reference data at birth and postnatally. In the Swedish study, 92% of the children born short for GA reached a final height greater than -2 SDS; 76% had a height greater than -2 SDS by 2 months of age. In the Hong Kong study, 79% reached a height greater than -2 SDS by 5 months of age (the longest follow-up time to date). A third population of Hong Kong Chinese infants born short for GA in 1967 was studied; 65% had reached the normal height range by 5 months of age. In the later Hong Kong study (1995-1996), catch-up growth could be identified as early as 12 weeks of age, which has important implications for clinical practice. Thus, growth monitoring during the first weeks of postnatal life gives useful information on catch-up growth in infants born short for GA.

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