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DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-41069-0; PMCID: PMC10509139


Most growth references for very preterm infants were developed using measurements taken at birth, and were thought to represent intrauterine growth. However, it remains unclear whether the goal of approximating an intrauterine growth rate as stated by the American Academy of Pediatrics is attainable by very preterm infants. Using real-world measurement data from very preterm infants born between 2010 through 2020, we develop models to characterize the patterns of postnatal growth, and compare them to intrauterine growth. By assessing the weight growth rate, we show three phases of postnatal growth not evident in intrauterine growth. Furthermore, postnatal length and head circumference growth exhibit a slow rate after birth, followed by an acceleration. Collectively, postnatal and intrauterine growth are distinctly different. Although postnatal growth models do not represent optimal growth of very preterm infants, they can serve as a practical tool for clinical assessment of growth and for nutrition research.

Journal Title

Nat Commun





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MeSH Keywords

Infant, Newborn; Infant; Humans; Child; Infant, Premature; Anthropometry; Acceleration


Anthropometry; Acceleration


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