The prevalence of rapid weight gain in infancy differs by the growth reference and age interval used for evaluation

Cara L. Eckhardt*, Heather Eng, John L. Dills, Katherine L. Wisner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Infant rapid weight gain (RWG) may predict subsequent obesity, but there are inconsistencies in the growth references and age intervals used for assessment.Methods: This study evaluated whether the prevalence of RWG (an increase of >0.67 in weight-for-age z-score) differed by growth reference (2006 WHO standards vs 2000 CDC references) and age interval of assessment (0-3, 0-6, 6-12 and 0-12 months). Pooled data from singleton term infants from two observational studies on maternal mood disorders during pregnancy were used (n = 161). Differences in RWG prevalence by growth reference and age interval were tested using Cochrans Q and McNemars tests.Results: The CDC reference produced a higher RWG prevalence (14% of infants additionally categorized as RWG, p < 0.0001) within the 0-3 month age interval compared to the WHO standards; this pattern was reversed for the 6-12 and 0-12 month intervals. RWG prevalence did not differ across age interval within the WHO standards, but did differ with the CDC references (range: 22% for 0-3 months to 4.2% for 6-12 months, p < 0.0001).Conclusions: Caution is advised when comparing studies with different criteria for RWG. Future studies should use the 2006 WHO standards and a consistent age interval of evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-90
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Human Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2016


  • Growth references
  • infant growth
  • rapid weight gain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Genetics
  • Aging
  • Physiology
  • Epidemiology


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