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Slow Growing Babies often 'Catch-Up' during Adolescence

Update Date: Feb 25, 2013 07:40 AM EST

According to a new study, most babies who don't appear to be growing at the same rate as their peers tend to catch-up by the time they reach adolescence, and so there really is no reason to panic if you find your kid is shorter than other kids of the same age.

The study also shows that feeding habits of babies can have a significant impact on their weight gain later, so parents must refrain from increasing the child's calorie intake just because he or she isn't as heavy as their peers. However, doctors can put the child on a high-calorie diet if the child isn't gaining weight due to underlying health conditions.

According to Medline Plus, delayed growth or abnormally short height in a child younger than 5 years of age can be normal and the child may eventually outgrow it.

"Overall parents can be re-assured that well babies showing slow weight gain in the first year do eventually recover to within the normal range, but at 13 years tend to be lighter and smaller than many of their peers," said professor Alan Emond, the paper's main author from University of Bristol.  

The data for the study came from a research conducted at the University of Bristol called Children of the 90s. The study included more than 11,000 children born in the 90s. In the study group, some 507 were slow to put on weight before the age of eight weeks and were referred to as the "early group", while 480 were slow to gain weight between eight weeks and nine months and were called "late group". Thirty children were common to both groups.

Study results showed that children from the first or the "early group" were quick to catch-up with their peers in gaining weight and height, whereas children belonging to the "late group" had lower weight and shorter height even in their early teens.

Children who don't gain weight are considered unhealthy and some healthcare professionals might want to put these kids on energy drinks. But, this might lead to later obesity in these children.

"The reason the early group caught up more quickly may be because those infants had obvious feeding difficulties and were more readily identified at the eight-week check, resulting in early treatment leading to a more rapid recovery. However, as Children of the 90s is an observational study, there is limited information available about which infants received nutritional supplements or medical treatments," said Emond, according to a news release.

The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.                           

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