Near-infrared interactance (NIR): a new non-invasive technique to estimate subcutaneous body fat in newborns.

S. Demarini, M. M. Donnelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Body fat (BF) is rarely determined routinely in infants due to the lack of a simple measuring device. A portable NIR instrument, successfully applied in adults, takes 5 seconds for a measurement and involves no skin manipulation. We designed this study 1) to compare BF estimates by NIR to skinfold thickness (ST) and 2) to assess the relationship of NIR and ST values with standard measures reflecting BF, such as Weight/Length Ratio, Body Mass Index and Ponderal Index. We studied BF in 40 healthy term infants within 12 hours of birth by NIR and ST at 3 standard sites: triceps (TRI), subscapular (SUB) and abdominal (ABD). RESULTS. Significant correlations were found between NIR and ST (R=0.70, 0.58 and 0.64 for SUB, TRI and ABD, respectively); between the sums of the 3 measurements (R= 0.69), and between birthweight and ST (R=0.57) or NIR (0.51), and between Weight/Length Ratio and ST (R=0.55) or NIR (R=0.51). We conclude that NIR measurements correlate well with skinfold measurements and NIR can be measured faster than skinfolds (5 vs 60 seconds). We speculate that NIR could be cost-effective for routine clinical measure of body fat and growth in infants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-30
Number of pages3
JournalNeonatal intensive care : the journal of perinatology-neonatology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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