Study: Slow to Grow Babies Catch up by Early Teens

Professor Alan Emond from Bristol University who conducted the research
A recently published research conducted by scientists from the University of Bristol revealed that most babies who are slow to gain weight in the first 9 months of their life have caught up to with normal children by the age of 13, but remain smaller and lighter than most of their friends. One of the most interesting findings of the research has to do with the differences in the pattern of ‘catch-up’ of different children, depending on the child’s age. As a result of the study clear guidelines are given to parents regarding the way to treat slow to grow children.
The findings of the research which was published yesterday on the journal Pediatrics, are based on a large database of 11,500 children. Out of these about 500 were found to be slow to put on weight before the age of eight weeks (known as "early group") and 480 were slow to gain weight between eight weeks and nine months (known as "late group"). Only about 30 children were common to both groups.
The research showed that the infants in the early group recovered quickly and had almost caught up in weight by the age of 2, whereas those in the later group gained weight more slowly until the age of 7, then had a surge of growth between the ages of 7 and 10 years, but remained significantly shorter and lighter than their friends as well as the children in the early group at the age of 13. According to the study at the age of 13, children in the late group were on average about 12 pounds lighter and almost 1.5 inch shorter than their friends. On the other hand children on the early group were on average 5.5 pounds lighter and 1.2 inch shorter than their friends.
A slow increase in body mass in small children is sometimes perceived by parents as a problem which is characteristic of an underlying sickness. However increasing the child energy intake might result in a risk of obesity later in life, encouraging  the child to undergo a rapid weight gain.
The findings show once again how important it is to keep track of a baby’s weight and height gain during the first few weeks and months, but on the other hand reassure parents that even if their baby is a slow-grower, he or she will most probably catch up to within the national average over time.
The study’s message to health professionals is that unless children are sick and require intervention, parents should not increase their food intake which can lead to obesity later in life. It is important to understand that the feeding habits of children especially in the second 6 months of life determine the child’s weight gain in the future and consuming too much food in this stage could have a very negative effect later in life.
You can find some more information of the research on the University of Bristol website.