• Medical, nutritional, and dental considerations in children with low birth weight.

      O'Connell, Susan; O'Connell, Anne; O'Mullane, Elaine; Hoey, Hilary; Department of Pediatric Endocrinology, The National Children's Hospital, Dublin, Ireland. soconnell5@hotmail.com (2009-11)
      It is estimated that 8 to 26 percent of infants are born with low birth weight (LBW) worldwide. These children are at risk for medical problems in childhood and adulthood and often have poor oral health. The influence of fetal growth on birth weight and its relevance to childhood growth and future adult health is controversial. Evidence now indicates that the postnatal period is a critical time when nutrition may predispose the child to lifelong metabolic disturbance and obesity. Given the lack of consensus on optimum infant nutrition for LBW, premature, and small-for-gestational-age infants, many such infants may be suboptimally managed. This may result in rapid postnatal weight gain and ongoing health problems. The purpose of this review was to summarize medical terminology and issues related to fetal growth, morbidity associated with being born low birth weight, premature, or small for gestational age, and the importance of appropriate nutrition in such infants. Pediatric dentists can play an important role in supporting healthy feeding practices and improving long-term health in these children. Early integrated medical and dental care should be encouraged for all children with low birth weight.