Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Characterization of Early Life Growth: Implications for Lifelong Health

Evidence that early life experiences play an important role in the long-term health of individuals holds promise for the identification of public health strategies to modify prenatal and perinatal determinants of adverse adult health outcomes. Although plausible mechanisms for the role of early life experiences in the development of adult health and disease exist, methodological limitations in human epidemiological studies need to be addressed before this field can adequately inform policy recommendations. Our research specifically addressed two such methodological challenges: how best to estimate the effect of growth in one period while appropriately accounting for final attained size, and how to evaluate the impact of overall patterns of growth on later disease. Our specific aims were to: 1) Assess the relationship between infant weight velocity and adult insulin resistance, specifically evaluating whether adult whether adult body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) mediate the association, and 2) Assess the relationship between trajectories of early life growth and adult anthropometric measures of body composition. We used over 22 years of follow-up data from The Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey (CLHNS), a community-based cohort study of children born from 1982-1983 in a metropolitan region of the Philippines. We found minimal associations between immediate postnatal weight velocity and adult insulin resistance and no associations between accelerated BMI gain in early infancy and anthropometric indicators of adult body composition. After controlling for BMI at two years of age, infant BMI trajectory classes were associated with anthropometric measures of body composition in adulthood, suggesting that overall patterns of BMI change in infancy have long-term implications for the development of body composition. Taken together, these results suggest that in this cohort early postnatal growth is not necessarily pathological and that growth patterns over the entire infancy period are important for the development of body composition.