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Association between infant nutrition and anthropometry, and pre-pubertal body composition in urban South African children

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 July 2012

J. Kagura*
MRC/Wits Developmental Pathways of Health Research Unit, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
A. B. B. Feeley
MRC/Wits Developmental Pathways of Health Research Unit, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
L. K. Micklesfield
MRC/Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, University of Cape Town, Johannesburg, South Africa
J. M. Pettifor
MRC/Wits Developmental Pathways of Health Research Unit, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
S. A. Norris
MRC/Wits Developmental Pathways of Health Research Unit, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
*Address for correspondence: J. Kagura, MRC/Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Developmental Pathways of Health Research Unit, University of Witwatersrand, 7 York Road, Parktown, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa. (Email


Early life nutrition and growth are related to subsequent obesity risk in high-income countries. We investigated the association between nutrition and growth during infancy, and body composition at 10 years of age in 140 children selected from the Bone Health sub-study of the Birth-to-Twenty cohort from Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa. Infant feeding and dietary data were collected during the first 12 months, and weight and height were measured at 1 and 2 years of age. At 10 years, anthropometry and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA)-derived body composition were measured. Regression models were used to determine associations between independent and dependent variables at the 1% level of significance. A one z-score increase in birth weight was associated with a 1051 g increase in lean mass and a 0.22 increase in body mass index (BMI) z-score at the age of 10 years. After adjusting for confounders, stunting at age 1 year was associated with lower fat mass only at 10 years of age while at age 2 years, it was associated with lower lean mass only. Being underweight at one year of age was significantly associated with lower lean mass only. Weight-for-age (WAZ) change in the second year of infancy was a predictor of fat mass and BMI only. Body fatness at 10 years of age was positively associated with infant WAZ change rather than height-for-age change. There were no significant associations between infant dietary patterns, wasting and being underweight at age 2 years and pre-pubertal body composition. Further studies are needed to assess whether these associations continue during adolescence as pubertal development may be an important modifier of these associations.

Original Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press and the International Society for Developmental Origins of Health and Disease 2012 

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