OBJECTIVE:

Prevalence of overweight in children is increasing, causing various health problems. This study aims to establish growth references for weight and to assess the prevalence rates of overweight and obesity in a nationwide sample of Dutch children with Down syndrome (DS), taking into account the influence of comorbidity.

METHODS:

In 2009, longitudinal growth data from Dutch children with trisomy 21 who were born after 1982 were retrospectively collected from medical records of 25 Dutch regional specialized DS centers. “Healthy” was defined as not having concomitant disorders or having only a mild congenital heart defect. Weight and BMI references were calculated by using the LMS method, and prevalence rates of overweight and obesity by using cutoff values for BMI as defined by the International Obesity Task Force. Differences in prevalence rates were tested by multilevel logistic regression analyses to adjust for gender and age.

RESULTS:

Growth data of 1596 children with DS were analyzed. Compared with the general Dutch population, healthy children with DS were more often overweight (25.5% vs 13.3% in boys, and 32.0% vs 14.9% in girls) and obese (4.2% vs 1.8%, and 5.1% vs 2.2%, respectively). Prevalence rates of overweight between DS children with or without concomitant disorders did not vary significantly.

CONCLUSIONS:

Dutch children with DS have alarmingly high prevalence rates of overweight and obesity during childhood and adolescence. Health care professionals should be aware of the risk of overweight and obesity in children with DS to prevent complications.

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