To examine the effects of various maternal and neonatal perinatal factors on the child’s body mass index (BMI) and physical fitness at school-age.
Data from two registries, the SLOfit database (a national surveillance system of children’s motor and physical development) and Slovenian National Perinatal Information System (NPIS) were analysed. Perinatal data for 2,929 children born in 2008 were linked to results of SLOfit testing of these children in 2016. Linear regression analysis was used to assess the potential relationship between several perinatal factors (very preterm birth, birth mass, maternal age, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, gestational diabetes, parity, plurality, maternal pre-pregnancy BMI, mode of delivery, presentation, Apgar score at 5 minutes, and admission to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)) and child’s BMI or child’s physical fitness index (PFI) at the age of eight years. We also included child’s school grade and maternal educational level in the analysis. A p value <0.05 was considered statistically significant.
Children born to mothers with lower pre-pregnancy BMI and higher education had lower BMI and higher PFI (p<0.001) at school-age. Physical fitness was also inversely associated with nulliparity (p<0.001) and NICU admission (p=0.020).
Among all perinatal factors studied, higher maternal education and lower pre-pregnancy BMI seem to be the most significant determinants of child’s BMI and physical fitness at school-age.
Changes in human growth and development depend on genetic and environmental factors. In the case of Slovenia, the environmental factors changed as a result of the period of socio-economic transition that the country underwent between 1991 and 2013. The authors used anthropometric techniques to evaluate differences in body height, proportions and sexual maturity in 1,221 adolescents aged 14 in 1993, 2003 and 2013.
Data was collected as a part of the ACDSi study, which has monitored children’s somatic growth and motor development every decade over the last 40 years.
Between 1993 and 2013, a trend (p=0.08) towards increased body height was observed in males. The comparison of age at peak height velocity (PHV) between generations demonstrated a trend (p=0.07) of earlier entry into puberty in adolescents in 2013 compared to those in 1993. The leg-to-body height ratio increased (p<0.05) with every decade in males, while in females it decreased (p<0.05) in 2013. Similar trends were observed in the leg-to-trunk ratio. Contemporary generations experienced PHV at a younger age (p<0.05), which is true for both genders even in adolescents born no more than two decades (1993 (2013) apart. In both generations, females experienced PHV sooner than their male peers.
The authors assume that females of the 2013 generation reached puberty earlier than females of older generations. It is most likely that, unlike females from older generations and unlike males, they were already at the stage of trunk growth at the time of the measurements, which explains the observed changes in their trunk length, leg-to-body height and leg-to-trunk ratios in comparison to earlier generations.