Eighty-year trends in infant weight and length growth: The fels longitudinal study

William Johnson, Audrey C. Choh, Laura E. Soloway, Stefan A. Czerwinski, Bradford Towne, Ellen W. Demerath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objectives: To investigate secular trends in weight and length growth from birth to 3 years of age in infants born from 1930 to 2008, and to assess whether these trends were associated with concurrent trends in pace of infant skeletal maturation and maternal body mass index. Study design: Longitudinal weight and length data from 620 infants (302 girls) were analyzed with mixed effects modeling to produce growth curves and predicted anthropometry for infants born from 1930 to 1949, 1950 to 1969, 1970 to 1989, and 1990 to 2008. Results: The most pronounced differences in growth occurred in the first year of life. Infants born after 1970 were approximately 450 g heavier and 1.4 cm longer at birth, but demonstrated slower growth to 1 year of age than infants born before 1970. Growth trajectories converged after 1 year of age. There was no evidence that relative skeletal age, maternal body mass index, or maternal age together mediated associations between cohort and growth. Conclusions: Recent birth cohorts may be characterized not only by greater birth size, but also by subsequent catch-down growth. Trends over time in human growth do not increase monotonically, and growth velocity in the first year may have declined compared with preceding generations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)762-768
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012


  • BMI
  • Body mass index


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