OBJECTIVE:

To determine how symmetric (proportionate; SGR) and asymmetric (disproportionate; AGR) growth restriction influence growth and development in preterms from birth to 4 years.

METHODS:

This community-based cohort study of 810 children comprised 86 SGR, 61 AGR, and 663 non–growth restricted (NGR) preterms, born in 2002 and 2003. Symmetrical growth restriction was defined as a birth weight below the 16th percentile (–1 SD) compared with full-terms and a head circumference (HC) z score not exceeding the infant’s birth weight z score by >1 SD. Asymmetric growth restriction was defined as a HC z score exceeding that for by >1 SD as a proxy of brain sparing. Developmental delay was assessed by the Ages and Stages Questionnaire at 4 years.

RESULTS:

Longitudinal gains in weight and height were similar for SGR and AGR children and less compared with NGR children. At age 4, z scores for weight were –1.1 for SGR and –0.7 for AGR children vs –0.3 for NGR children. z scores for height were –0.8 and –0.5 vs –0.2. HC gain were 2 cm more in SGR, but at 1 year, they were –0.2 vs 0.2 (AGR) and 0.1 (NGR). Developmental delay increased with odds ratios of 2.5 (95% confidence interval 1.1–6.0) for SGR and 2.1 (95% confidence interval 0.7–5.9) for AGR.

CONCLUSIONS:

Weight and height gains were similar for AGR and SGR children but poorer compared with NGR children. SGR children caught up on HC. Developmental delay was more likely in growth-restricted preterms independent of HC at birth.

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