Monitoring postnatal growth of preterm infants: Present and future

Francesca Giuliani, Leila Cheikh Ismail, Enrico Bertino, Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, Eric O. Ohuma, Ilaria Rovelli, Agustin Conde-Agudelo, José Villar, Stephen H. Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Background: There is no consensus with regard to which charts are most suitable for monitoring the postnatal growth of preterm infants. Objective: We aimed to assess the strategies used to develop existing postnatal growth charts for preterm infants and their methodologic quality. Design: A systematic review of observational longitudinal studies, having as their primary objective the creation of postnatal growth charts for preterm infants, was conducted. Thirty-eight items distributed in 3 methodologic domains ("study design," "statistical methods," and "reporting methods") were assessed in each study. Each item was scored as a "low" or "high" risk of bias. Two reviewers independently selected the studies, assessed the risk of bias, and extracted data. A total quality score [(number of "low risk" of bias marks/total number of items assessed) 3 100%] was calculated for each study. Median (range, IQR) quality scores for each methodologic domain and for all included studies were computed. Results: Sixty-one studies met the inclusion criteria. Twentyseven (44.3%) of the 61 studies scored ≥50%, of which 10 scored >60% and only 1 scored >66%. The median (range, IQR) quality score for the 61 included studies was 47% (26-75%, 34-56%). The scores for the domains study design, statistical methods, and reporting methods were 44% (19-67%, 33-52%), 25% (0-88%, 13-38%), and 33% (0-100%, 0-33%), respectively. The most common shortcomings were observed in items related to anthropometric measures (the main variable of interest), gestational age estimation, follow-up duration, reporting of postnatal care and morbidities, assessment of outliers, covariates, and chart presentation. Conclusions: The overall methodologic quality of existing longitudinal studies was fair to low. To overcome these problems, the Preterm Postnatal Follow-up Study, 1 of the 3 main components of The International Fetal and Newborn Growth Consortium for the 21st Century Project, was designed to construct preterm postnatal growth standards from a prospective cohort of "healthy" pregnancies and preterm newborns without evidence of fetal growth restriction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635S-647S
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


  • Growth charts
  • Perinatal outcomes
  • Phenotypes
  • Postnatal growth
  • Preterm birth
  • Syndrome
  • Systematic review


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