Study shows obesity in infants can be diagnosed at 6 months

April 7, 2010. Posted in: Blog Posts

Study shows obesity in infants can be diagnosed at 6 months

By analyzing the electronic medical records of babies seen for routine “well-child” visits to the UTMB pediatric clinic, the investigators found that about 16 percent of 6-month-olds fit the study’s criterion for obesity — a weight-for-length ratio that put them in the top 5 percent of all babies in their age group. (Weight for length was used instead of the conventional body mass index because BMI is based on weight and height as measured while standing, which neither 6-month-olds nor 24-month-olds can do well enough to measure.) Further analysis of the records indicated that obese 2-year-olds were much more likely to have been obese at 6 months than 2-year-olds who were not obese.

Here’s the actual study: McCormick DP, Sarpong K, Jordan L, Ray LA, Jain S. Infant Obesity: Are We Ready to Make this Diagnosis? J Pediatr. 2010 Mar 23. [Epub ahead of print].

“Regarding breastfeeding, meta-analyses have shown a 15% to 25% reduction in obesity risk at school age with early breastfeeding compared with formula feeding. Our data report a trend for prolonged breastfeeding to be associated with healthy weight status at age 24 months, but the numbers of breast feeders to age 6 months in our population are small. Some records did not note breastfeeding status because some subjects’ data were entered on our EMR for the first time at their 6-month visit.”

Of the obese children in the study, 31% were never breastfed (vs 24% of the healthy weight children) and only 11% were breastfed past 6 months (vs 21% of the healthy weight children).  The breastfeeding status of 38% of the obese children (and 34% of the healthy weight children) was unknown.

Do you have a big exclusively breastfed baby?

It is normal for breastfed babies to gain weight more rapidly than their formula-fed peers during the first 2-3 months and then taper off (particularly between 9 and 12 months). There is absolutely NO evidence that a large breastfed baby will become a large child or adult.