Malnutrition continues to affect the growth and development of millions of children worldwide, and chronic undernutrition has proven to be largely refractory to interventions. Improved understanding of metabolic development in infancy and how it differs in growth-constrained children may provide insights to inform more timely, targeted, and effective interventions. Here, the metabolome of healthy infants was compared to that of growth-constrained infants from three continents over the first 2 years of life to identify metabolic signatures of aging. Predictive models demonstrated that growth-constrained children lag in their metabolic maturity relative to their healthier peers and that metabolic maturity can predict growth 6 months into the future. Our results provide a metabolic framework from which future nutritional programs may be more precisely constructed and evaluated.
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