Background: Very preterm (VPT) infants are at-risk for altered growth, slower speed of processing (SOP), and hypertension. This study assesses the relationship between postnatal body composition (BC), neurodevelopment (indexed by SOP), and blood pressure (BP) in VPT infants. Methods: Thirty-four VPT infants underwent weekly measurements and BC testing until discharge and post-discharge at 4 mos CGA and 4 yrs. At post-discharge visits, SOP was assessed using visual evoked potentials and the NIH Toolbox; BP was also measured. Results: In-hospital rate of weight, length and fat-free mass (FFM) gains were associated with faster SOP at 4 yrs. Higher rate of gains in weight and FFM from discharge to 4 mos CGA were associated with faster SOP at 4 mos CGA, while higher fat mass (FM) gains during the same time were positively associated with BP at 4 yrs. BC at 4 yrs nor gains beyond 4 mos CGA were associated with outcomes. Conclusions: In VPT infants, early FFM gains are associated with faster SOP, whereas post-discharge FM gains are associated with higher BPs at 4 yrs. This shows birth to 4 mos CGA is a sensitive period for growth and its relation to neurodevelopmental and metabolic outcomes. Close monitoring and early nutritional adjustments to optimize quality of gains may improve outcomes.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The support for this study was provided by the Amplatz McQuarrie Scholar Award through the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota and NIH Grant P30 DK50456 to the Minnesota Obesity Center at the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic.