Background: Even though a lot of research has been done on postnatal growth and the occurrence of catch-up growth in small-for-gestational age (SGA) neonates, this phenomenon has not been studied well in appropriate for-gestational age (AGA) neonates. Postnatal catch-up growth may also occur in AGA neonates indicating a compensatory mechanism for undiagnosed intrauterine growth restriction, especially in AGA neonates with reduced fetal growth velocity.

Aims: To describe postnatal growth during the first 5 years of life in SGA and AGA neonates and evaluating the role of fetal growth velocity in catch-up growth.

Study design: Retrospective study in a Dutch tertiary hospital.

Subjects: 740 singleton neonates, without congenital anomalies, with ultrasound fetal growth data from 20 weeks and 32 weeks of pregnancy.

Outcome measures: Postnatal growth measurements of height (cm) and weight (kg) from birth until five years of age.

Postnatal catch-up growth defined as difference (delta) in both height and weight between 4 weeks and 3 years of age.

Results and conclusions: SGA neonates had a significantly lower height and weight compared to the AGA group for all available measurement moments till 3 years. The catch-up growth between the SGA and AGA groups from 4 weeks up to 3 years after birth was not different between the two groups. However, neonates with reduced fetal growth velocity had a significantly higher risk for catch-up growth in height during the first 3 years after birth.

This suggests a role for fetal growth velocity measurement in predicting fetal and subsequent postnatal growth potential.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105199
Number of pages7
JournalEarly Human Development
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Birthweight percentile
  • Fetal growth velocity
  • IUGR
  • FGR
  • Catch-up growth

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