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PhD ceremony Ms. I.F.A. Bocca-Tjeertes: Growth of preterm-born children

When:We 20-11-2013 at 11:00

PhD ceremony: Ms. I.F.A. Bocca-Tjeertes, 11.00 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Dissertation: Growth of preterm-born children

Promotor(s): prof. A.F. Bos, prof. S.A. Reijneveld

Faculteit: Medical Sciences

The main goal of the research reported in this thesis was to describe normal growth in preterm-born children and to determine growth and its influence on development in (pre)term children according to their birth weight, gestational age, and type of fetal growth restriction.

Growth can be seen as a biomarker for the general well-being of a child. It is also one of the accessible outcomes of preterm birth. Studies showed that preterm birth is associated with poorer growth in the long-term. Prematurity thus seems to affect growth directly, although growth is influenced by many other factors, such as genetic and hormonal profiles, morbidity, and social conditions.

In summary we found that growth in preterm-born children differed from that of full term children. It was dependent of a child’s gestational age and body proportions at birth. Catch-up growth was seen in preterm-born children, but it was mostly limited to the first year after birth. Growth was mostly insufficient to provide catch-up towards the median for children that were growth restricted at birth compared to their preterm-born counterparts. Even so, preterm children born with an appropriate birth weight for their gestational age were also at risk for growth restriction in the long-term.

Both ends of the birth weight spectrum had different consequences regarding development of preterm-born children. Growth restriction resulted in a two-fold increase of the risk for developmental delay whereas fetal overgrowth did not.

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