Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Irvine

UC Irvine Previously Published Works bannerUC Irvine

Body composition and its components in preterm and term newborns: A cross‐sectional, multimodal investigation


A prospective, cross-sectional, observational study in preterm and term infants was performed to compare multimodal measurements of body composition, namely, limb ultrasound, bone quantitative ultrasound, and dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). One hundred and two preterm and term infants appropriate for gestational age were enrolled from the newborn nursery and neonatal intensive care unit. Infants were included when they were medically stable, in an open crib, on full enteral feeds and within 1 week of anticipated discharge. Correlations among the various measurements of body composition were performed using standard techniques. A comparison between preterm infant (born at 28-32 weeks) reaching term to term-born infants was performed. Limb ultrasound estimates of cross-sectional areas of lean and fat tissue in a region of tissue (i.e., the leg) were remarkably correlated with regional and whole-body estimates of fat-free mass and fat obtained from DXA suggesting the potential usefulness of muscle ultrasound as an investigative tool for studying aspects of body composition in this fragile population. There was a weak but significant correlation between quantitative ultrasound measurements of bone strength and DXA-derived bone mineral density (BMD). Preterm infants reaching term had significantly lower body weight, length, head circumference, muscle and fat cross-sectional area, bone speed of sound, whole-body and regional lean body mass, fat mass, and BMD compared to term-born infants. Current postnatal care and nutritional support in preterm infants is still unable to match the in-utero environment for optimal growth and bone development. The use of relatively simple bedside, noninvasive body composition measurements may assist in understanding how changes in different components of body composition early in life affect later growth and development.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View