Submitted to: Seminars in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/10/2006
Publication Date: 2/1/2007
Citation: Ellis, K.J. 2007. Evaluation of body composition in neonates and infants. Seminars in Fetal & Neonatal Medicine. 12(1):87-91. Interpretive Summary: Both under- and over-nutrition during infancy, as well as periods of rapid growth during the first year of life, have been demonstrated to have long-term health consequences in adulthood. Understanding the changes in body composition (the amounts of body fat, muscle, and bone) during infancy may help to better define an infant’s nutritional needs. The measurement of body composition in infants, however, is not easy. Most of the methods available for use with neonates and infants are focused at an assessment of either body fatness or mineralization of bone. Only one method (body potassium) can directly monitor the quality of growth of skeletal muscle, which is the major component of lean tissues. This review provides an evaluation of the different approaches currently available to measure infant body composition, identifying strengths and limitations of each method.
Technical Abstract: A better understanding of the nutritional needs of both healthy and sick infants is important. Not only does too much or too little nutrition during early life have long-term effects on health, but periods of rapid growth during the first year of life also have long-term consequences. Knowledge of the changes in body composition in early life can help to better define nutritional needs at these ages. Several methods are available for measuring body composition of neonates and infants. Most focus on an assessment of either body fatness or bone mineralization; only a few can monitor the quality of the non-fat lean tissues. This paper provides an evaluation of the different approaches currently available to monitor infant body composition, identifying both their strengths and limitations.