Body composition reference charts for infants from birth to 24 months: Multicenter infant body composition reference study

Document Type



Paediatrics and Child Health


Background: Body composition assessment in the first 2 y of life provides important insights into child nutrition and health. The application and interpretation of body composition data in infants and young children have been challenged by a lack of global reference data.
Objectives: We aimed to develop body composition reference charts of infants aged 0-6 mo based on air displacement plethysmography (ADP) and those aged 3-24 mo based on total body water (TBW) by deuterium dilution (DD).
Methods: Body composition was assessed by ADP in infants aged 0-6 mo from Australia, India, and South Africa. TBW using DD was assessed for infants aged 3-24 mo from Brazil, Pakistan, South Africa, and Sri Lanka. Reference charts and centiles were constructed for body composition using the lambda-mu-sigma method.
Results: Sex-specific reference charts were produced for FM index (FMI), FFM index (FFMI), and percent FM (%FM) for infants aged 0-6 mo (n = 470 infants; 1899 observations) and 3-24 mo (n = 1026 infants; 3690 observations). When compared with other available references, there were observable differences but similar patterns in the trajectories of FMI, FFMI, and %FM.
Conclusions: These reference charts will strengthen the interpretation and understanding of body composition in infants across the first 24 mo of life.

Publication (Name of Journal)

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition