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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2013, Article ID 951954, 9 pages
Research Article

Ultrasound Estimates of Visceral and Subcutaneous-Abdominal Adipose Tissues in Infancy

1MRC Epidemiology Unit, Institute of Metabolic Science, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, P.O. Box 285, Cambridge CB2 0QQ, UK
2Department of Epidemiology, Groningen University, 9700 RB Groningen, The Netherlands
3Section of Neonatal Medicine, Department of Medicine Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Campus, Imperial College London, London SW10 9NH, UK
4Department of Paediatrics, University of Cambridge, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, P.O. Box 116, Cambridge CB2 0QQ, UK

Received 21 December 2012; Revised 22 March 2013; Accepted 27 March 2013

Academic Editor: Analiza M. Silva

Copyright © 2013 Emanuella De Lucia Rolfe et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Other imaging techniques to quantify internal-abdominal adiposity (IA-AT) and subcutaneous-abdominal adiposity (SCA-AT) are frequently impractical in infants. The aim of this study was twofold: (a) to validate ultrasound (US) visceral and subcutaneous-abdominal depths in assessing IA-AT and SCA-AT from MRI as the reference method in infants and (b) to analyze the association between US abdominal adiposity and anthropometric measures at ages 3 months and 12 months. Twenty-two infants underwent MRI and US measures of abdominal adiposity. Abdominal US parameters and anthropometric variables were assessed in the Cambridge Baby Growth Study (CBGS), infants (23 girls) at age 3 months and infants (237 girls) at 12 months. US visceral and subcutaneous-abdominal depths correlated with MRI quantified IA-AT ( , ) and SCA-AT ( , ) volumes, respectively. In CBGS, mean US-visceral depths increased by 20 % between ages 3 and 12 months ( ) and at both ages were lower in infants breast-fed at 3 months than in other infants. US-visceral depths at both 3 and 12 months were inversely related to skinfold thickness at birth ( and at 3 and 12 months, resp.; adjusted for current skinfold thickness). In contrast, US-subcutaneous-abdominal depth at 3 months was positively related to skinfold thickness at birth ( ). US measures can rank infants with higher or lower IA-AT and SCA-AT. Contrasting patterns of association with visceral and subcutaneous-abdominal adiposities indicate that they may be differentially regulated in infancy.