Reduced body size and shape-related symptoms in young adults born preterm with very low birth weight: Helsinki study of very low birth weight adults

Karoliina Wehkalampi, Petteri Hovi, Sonja Strang-Karlsson, Katri Räikkönen, Anu-Katriina Pesonen, Kati Heinonen, Outi Mäkitie, Anna-Liisa Järvenpää, Johan G Eriksson, Sture Andersson, Eero Kajantie
Journal of Pediatrics 2010, 157 (3): 421-7, 427.e1

OBJECTIVE: To test the hypothesis that being born prematurely with very low birth weight (VLBW) (birth weight<or=1500 g) is associated with subphenotypes of eating disorders (dissatisfaction with body shape and pursuit of thinness) in young adulthood.

STUDY DESIGN: Preterm-born VLBW subjects (n=163) and controls (n=189) born at term completed 3 subscales of Eating Disorder Inventory-2 questionnaire (EDI): Drive for Thinness, Body Dissatisfaction, and Bulimia. Data were analyzed with multiple linear regression adjusted for confounders.

RESULTS: Among both sexes, EDI total scores were lower in VLBW subjects than in controls. The fully adjusted difference was -11.0% (95% CI, -18.4%, -2.2%) for women and -11.2% (95% CI, -20.2%, -1.3%) for men. Among women the lower scores in VLBW adults were observed in each EDI subscale. Results were similar when adjusted also for fat percentage, measured by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. Of the covariates, higher body mass index and higher score in Beck Depression Inventory contributed significantly to a higher EDI total score.

CONCLUSIONS: Young adults, particularly women, born prematurely with VLBW have fewer body size and shape-related symptoms and possibly lower risk for eating disorders than their term-born peers.

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