Body composition in newborn infants: 5-year experience in an Italian neonatal intensive care unit

Maria Lorella Giannì, Paola Roggero, Pasqua Piemontese, Anna Orsi, Orsola Amato, Francesca Taroni, Nadia Liotto, Laura Morlacchi, Fabio Mosca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of nutrition in neonatology is to achieve a healthy growth that mimics, both in terms of growth rates and quality of growth, that of a normal fetus of the same gestational age. In addition, providing an optimal amount and quality of nutrients significantly contributes to the attainment of a neurodevelopment similar to that of an infant born at term. Yet, a high risk of developing metabolic syndrome in relation to aggressive nutrition and accelerated postnatal growth velocity has been reported in former preterm infants. Considering the strict interrelationship that exists between early nutrition, growth, and subsequent health, the development of body composition in early infancy, in terms of fat mass, may contribute to the long-term "programming" process. Hence, accurate and non-invasive measurement of infant body composition, which evaluates the quality in addition to the amount of weight gain, represents a useful tool for gaining further insight into the relationship between birth weight or time in utero and future development. Preterm infants, including those born small for gestational age, have been reported to develop an increased and/or aberrant adiposity, in addition to postnatal growth retardation, when assessed at term-corrected age. However, within the first 5. months, preterm infants, either born adequate or small for gestational age, show a recovery of fat mass, and attain fat mass values comparable to those of full-term infants assessed at birth. The metabolic consequences of these findings on the long-term health need to be further clarified.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEarly Human Development
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • Body composition
  • Fat mass
  • Preterm infants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


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