The clinical utility of anthropometric measures to assess adiposity in a cohort of prematurely born infants: Correlations with MRI fat quantification

T.A. Stokes, D. Kuehn, M. Hood, D.M. Biko, A. Pavey, C Olsen , C.E.Hunt* | JNPM 2017;

OBJECTIVE: To correlate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of body fat in preterm infants at the time of hospital discharge with same-day anthropometric measures, and to assess the clinical utility of body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), and WC/length ratio as indicators of visceral fat. 
STUDY DESIGN: MRI performed prior to NICU discharge in 25 infants born preterm at <32 weeks gestation. Total body fat and visceral fat were quantified using a commercial software program. The Pearson correlation coefficient (r, 95% C.I.) was used to describe strength of association between MRI fat and anthropometric measures.
RESULTS: BMI and weight at discharge were strongly correlated with total body fat (r = 0.95 and 0.89 respectively; p < 0.001). Total body fat as a % of body weight was moderately correlated with weight (r = 0.53), WC (r = 0.52), and BMI (r = 0.47). Weight, BMI, and ponderal index all were found to correlate with total visceral fat (r = 0.65, 0.64, 0.55 respectively) but WC did not (r = 0.28). WC/length ratio was not correlated with any MRI fat measurements.
CONCLUSIONS: BMI and weight at discharge both correlate with MRI fat measurements. Our findings do not support the usefulness of measuring WC or WC/length ratio in preterm infants at term-equivalent age.

*Corresponding Author: 

 Carl E. Hunt, MD, Department of Pediatrics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, 4301 Jones Bridge Road, Building C1069, Bethesda, MD, USA. Tel.: +1 240 694 2676; E-mail: