Aims: To study weight, length, body composition, sleeping energy expenditure (SEE), and respiratory quotient (RQ) at birth and at 5 mo of age in both adequate-for-gestational-age (AGA) and large-for-gestational-age (LGA) subjects; to compare the changes in body weight and body composition adjusting for gender, age, SEE, RQ and several maternal factors; to investigate the contribution of initial SEE and RQ to changes in body weight and body composition. Methods: Sixty-nine neonates were recruited among term infants in the University Hospital of Verona, Italy. Forty-nine subjects participated until follow-up. At birth and follow-up, weight and length were measured and arm-fat area and arm-muscle area were calculated from triceps and subscapular skinfolds. SEE and RQ were measured by indirect calorimetry. Results: At birth, weight, length, arm-muscle and arm-fat areas were significantly higher in LGA subjects than in AGA subjects. Weight status, SEE and RQ at birth did not explain the relative weight change after adjusting for gestational weight, placental weight, age at follow-up and gender. Arm-fat area and weight/length ratio at birth were negatively associated with relative changes in body weight after adjusting for the above variables (p < 0.05).
Conclusion: Early growth from birth to 5 mo of life is significantly affected by body size and adiposity at birth. Fatter newborns had a slower growth rate than thinner newborns.