Mid-arm circumference is a reliable method to estimate adiposity in preterm and term infants
BACKGROUND: Premature birth is associated with increased adipose deposition after birth. Standard anthropometry (body weight, length, and head circumference) may not adequately assess fat deposition. Validated methods to assess adiposity are needed to optimize growth quality in preterm infants. The purpose of this study was to identify covariates of infant body fat. METHODS: Air displacement plethysmography (ADP), standard anthropometry, and body circumferences were measured at hospital discharge in preterm (n = 28; 31-35 wk postmenstrual age (PMA)) and term (n = 28; 38-41 wks PMA) infants. RESULTS: Body weight, length, and head circumference were lower for preterm infants (P < 0.05) at hospital discharge compared with that of term infants. Despite smaller body size and younger PMA, preterm infant percent body fat (%BF) by ADP was 12.33 +/- 4.15% vs. 9.64 +/- 4.01% in term infants (P = 0.01). Mid-arm circumference (MAC) is a covariate of %BF in both preterm and term infants (adjusted R(2) = 0.49; P < 0.001). In preterm infants alone, MAC accounted for 60.4% of the variability of percent body fat (%BF) by ADP (P < 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Preterm infants have increased body fat deposition as they approach term-corrected age, and MAC is a reliable, low-cost measure for monitoring infant body fat deposition in preterm and term infants.
School of Medicine