Body composition of preterm infants during infancy

D. J. Rawlings, R. J. Cooke, K. McCormick, I. J. Griffin, K. Faulkner, J. C K Wells, J. S. Smith, S. J. Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Aims - To examine body composition in preterm infants. Methods - Body composition was measured by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) at hospital discharge, term, 12 weeks, and at 6 and 12 months corrected age in 125 infants (birthweight ≤ 1750 g, gestational age ≤ 34 weeks). Results - Body weight derived by DEXA accurately predicted that determined by conventional scales. In both sexes lean mass (LM), fat mass (FM), %FM, bone area (BA), bone mineral mass (BMM), and bone mineral density (BMD) increased rapidly during the study; significant changes were detectable between discharge and term. At 12 months, LM, BA, and BMM, but not FM, %FM, or BMD were greater in boys than in girls. Corrected for age, LM was less than those of the reference term infant; FM and %FM were similar; BMM was greater. Corrected for weight, LM was similar to those of the reference infant, while the FM and %FM of study infants were slightly greater. Conclusions - DEXA accurately measures body mass. Body composition in preterm boys and girls differs. Interpretation of DEXA values may depend on whether age or body weight are regarded as the appropriate reference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalArchives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal and Neonatal Edition
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Body composition
  • Dual emission energy x-ray absorptiometry
  • Preterm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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