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Preemie growth study finds girls catch up first

Published Sep. 1, 2005

Girls born tiny and very premature are more likely than boys born premature to catch up with their peers in growth by age 20, a study found, but the researchers say the difference might turn out to favor boys.

While it generally has been considered desirable for premature infants to catch up in size with normal-weight infants, studies have linked unusually rapid growth in childhood with an increased risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Most of the catch-up growth in girls studied appeared to occur from ages 8 through 20. And while premature boys were half as likely as normal-birthweight boys to be obese, obesity rates were similar among premature and normal-birthweight girls.

"On the surface it appears that the male very low birthweight subjects might be at a disadvantage," Dr. Maureen Hack and colleagues said. "However, we are more concerned about the future health of the very low birthweight females."

While it's too soon to tell what health problems the women will face, Hack said the findings suggest parents of girls born prematurely should take special care to make sure they have a healthy diet and avoid becoming overweight.

The study appears in the July issue of Pediatrics, published today.

The research involved 103 boys and 92 girls born in the late 1970s at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland, where Hack is a prominent prematurity researcher.

Woman throws two sons off bridge, police say

ST. PAUL, Minn. _ A woman allegedly threw her twin infant sons off a bridge into the Mississippi River, then jumped in, screaming as she fell 75 feet, police said.

Several people who were at the river's edge for the city's July Fourth fireworks display Friday jumped in after them. A man rescued one of the 11-month-old boys, then pulled the mother to safety with the help of others.

Naomi Gaines, 24, and the rescued boy were expected to recover. The body of a baby was found Sunday night, and Dakota County Sheriff's dispatcher Jan Kaeder said officials were "all but technically sure it's the (other) child."