Fast and reproducible method for the direct quantitation of adipose tissue in newborn infants.
The role of body fat content and distribution in infants is becoming an area of increasing interest, especially as perception of its function appears to be rapidly evolving. Although a number of methods are available to estimate body fat content in adults, many are of limited use in infants, especially in the context of regional distribution and internal depots. In this study we developed and implemented a whole-body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based protocol that allows fast and reproducible measurements of adipose tissue content in newborn infants, with an intra-observer variability of <2.4% and an inter-observed variability of <7%. The percentage total body fat for this cohort of infants ranged from 13.3-22.6% (mean and standard deviation: 16.6 +/- 2.9%), which agrees closely with published data. Subcutaneous fat accounted for just over 89% of the total body fat, whereas internal fat corresponded to almost 11%, most of which was nonabdominal fat. There were no gender differences in total or regional body fat content. These results show that whole-body MRI can be readily applied to the study of adipose tissue content and distribution in newborn infants. Furthermore, its noninvasive nature makes it an ideal method for longitudinal and interventional studies in newborn infants.