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Investigating the relationship between prenatal growth and postnatal outcomes: a systematic review of the literature

  • T. Norris (a1) and N. Cameron (a2)


Theories regarding the relationship between pre- and postnatal growth and programming of health have been based on characteristics at birth, with little or no reference to the patterns of growth occurring in utero. Review of the literature to identify studies using ultrasonographically obtained fetal dimensions to track prenatal growth and relate these patterns of growth to postnatal anthropometry and cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors. Review of Medline, Scopus and Proquest for studies reporting on ultrasonographically derived estimates of fetal growth and their association with postnatal anthropometry, body composition or cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors. Quality of papers were assessed using the method developed by Downs and Black. Twenty-nine studies met the inclusion criteria, with a mean score of high quality. Twenty of the studies had follow-up in infancy, five in childhood, three in adolescence and one in adulthood. The associations observed suggest that centile tracking may occur early in pregnancy though whether this is as early as the first trimester is uncertain. The second trimester may be a critical period for the programming of blood pressure and abdominal circumference may be the most sensitive fetal dimension to indicate any programming.


Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: T. Norris, Centre for Global Health and Human Development, School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough LE11 3TU, UK. (Email


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Investigating the relationship between prenatal growth and postnatal outcomes: a systematic review of the literature

  • T. Norris (a1) and N. Cameron (a2)


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