Context: Maternal adiposity and overnutrition, both before and during pregnancy, plays a key role in the subsequent development of obesity and metabolic outcomes in offspring.
Objective: We explored the hypothesis that maternal adiposity (pre-pregnancy and at 26-28 weeks' gestation) and mid-pregnancy gestational weight gain (GWG) are independently associated with offspring size and adiposity in early childhood, and determined whether these effects are ethnicity dependent.
Design: In a prospective mother-offspring cohort study (N = 976, 56% Chinese, 26% Malay, and 18% Indian), we assessed the associations of offspring size (weight, length) and adiposity (subscapular and triceps skinfolds), measured at birth and age 6, 12, 18, and 24 mo, with maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index (ppBMI), mid-pregnancy GWG, and mid-pregnancy four-site skinfold thicknesses (triceps, biceps, subscapular, suprailiac).
Results: ppBMI and mid-pregnancy GWG were independently associated with postnatal weight up to 2 y and skinfold thickness at birth. Weight and subscapular and triceps skinfolds at birth increased by 2.56% (95% confidence interval, 1.68-3.45%), 3.85% (2.16-5.57%), and 2.14% (0.54-3.75%), respectively for every SD increase in ppBMI. Similarly, a one-SD increase in GWG increased weight and subscapular and triceps skinfolds at birth by 2.44% (1.66-3.23%), 3.28% (1.75-4.84%), and 3.23% (1.65-4.84%), respectively. ppBMI and mid-pregnancy suprailiac skinfold independently predicted postnatal skinfold adiposity up to 2 years of age, whereas only GWG predicted postnatal length. The associations of GWG with postnatal weight and length were present only among Chinese and Indians, but not Malays (P < .05 for interaction).
Conclusions: ppBMI and GWG are independent modifiable factors for child size and adiposity up to 2 years of age. The associations are ethnic-dependent, and underscore the importance of ethnic specific studies before generalizing the applicability of risk factors reported in other populations.