Patterns of prenatal growth and skinfold thickness at birth

Publication authors

Norris T.; Cameron N.; Johnson W.; West J.; Wright J.


Introduction: Identify whether patterns of restricted or rapid fetal growth are related to skinfold thickness at birth.

Methods: Multilevel models were used for the modelling of fetal and postnatal growth from the Born in Bradford (BiB) cohort. Fitted values and Z-scores were produced at 20, 30, 40 prenatal weeks. Restricted and rapid growth were defined as a change in conditional Z-score in the fetal period of <-0.67 and >0.67, respectively. ANOVAs and linear regression (adjusted for weight at birth) were used to test for differences in subscapular and tricep skinfold thickness and the centripetal fat ratio at birth, by type of prenatal growth.

Results: Neonates who had experienced restricted fetal growth had significantly smaller subscapular and tricep skinfold thickness compared to those with normal or rapid fetal growth. Rapid fetal growth was also associated with significantly thicker skinfold thickness compared to normal fetal growth. After adjusting for weight at birth, these associations were attenuated and became non-significant. There were no significant differences in the centripetal fat ratio between any of the types of fetal growth, before or after adjustment for size at birth.

Conclusion: Periods of restricted or rapid fetal growth were associated with differences in skinfold thickness at birth. However, adjusting for size at birth resulted in differences being attenuated to the null, suggesting that independent effects of reduced or rapid fetal growth in a particular period of time were not apparent. Furthermore, a tendency to deposit fat centrally was not associated with any particular pattern of fetal growth.