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Accelerated Longitudinal Weight Gain Among Infants With In Utero COVID-19 Exposure

Ockene M, Russo S, Lee H, Monthé-Drèze C, Stanley T, Ma I, Toribio M, Shook L, Grinspoon S, Edlow A, Fourman L (2023) The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism Mar 29;dgad130 doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgad130 

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Context: Since the initial outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a novel population of children with in utero exposure to maternal infection has emerged whose health outcomes are largely unknown.

Objective: To compare longitudinal growth trajectories among infants with vs without in utero COVID-19 exposure.

Methods: We conducted a longitudinal cohort study leveraging a prospectively enrolled perinatal biorepository among 149 infants with in utero COVID-19 exposure and 127 unexposed controls. Weight, length, and body mass index (BMI) were abstracted from health records at 0, 2, 6, and 12 months and standardized using World Health Organization growth charts. Analyses were adjusted for maternal age, ethnicity, parity, insurance, and BMI as well as infant sex, birthdate, and breastfeeding.

Results: Infants with in utero COVID-19 exposure vs controls exhibited differential trajectories of weight and BMI, but not length, z-score over the first year of life (study group × time interaction, P < .0001 for weight and BMI). Infants born to mothers with prenatal COVID-19 had lower BMI z-score at birth (effect size: -0.35, 95% CI -0.66 to -0.03) and greater gain in BMI z-score from birth to 12 months (effect size: 0.53, 95% CI 0.06 to 0.99). Birth weight z-score mediated a significant proportion of the relationship between COVID-19 exposure and postnatal growth (estimate ± SE, 32 ± 14%, P = .02).

Conclusion: Infants with in utero COVID-19 exposure exhibited lower birth weight and accelerated weight gain in the first year of life, which may be harbingers of downstream cardiometabolic pathology. Further studies are needed to delineate cardiometabolic sequelae among this emerging global population.


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