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Maternal and pediatric nutrition

Parental heights and maternal education as predictors of length/height of children at birth, age 3 and 19 years, independently on diet: the ELSPAC study



Little is currently known about the relationship between the parental diet during pregnancy and the growth of the child from early childhood until early adulthood. This study was designed to examine whether the dietary patterns of the parents during a pregnancy and of the respective child at 3 years are associated with the length/height-for-age z-score of child at birth, 3 years of age and at 19 years of age.


Dietary patterns of pregnant women and their partners, and offspring at 3 years that were enroled in the 1990–1991 period in the Czech part of the European Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood. Multivariable linear regression models were used to estimate the relationship between the dietary patterns of parents (835 child–mother–father trios) during pregnancy and the length/height-for-age z-score of their offspring at birth, 3 years and 19 years.


The maternal health-conscious food pattern was found to predict lower child height at 3 years, but not at birth nor at 19 years of age. An increase in the health-conscious pattern score of the maternal diet was associated with significantly lower height-for-age z-score at 3 years; however, the observed effect lost its significance after the adjustment for diet of the child at 3 years.


After full adjustment, the only significant predictors of the height-for-age z-score of the child at 3 years were the heights of both parents and maternal education. More research into the association of maternal diet in pregnancy and height of child is necessary.

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We are grateful to Pavel Piler and Vit Kandrnal for valuable comments and assistance in cohort description. The ELSPAC study is currently supported by the RECETOX Research Infrastructure of Masaryk University CETOCOEN PLUS (CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/15_003/0000469), the National Feasibility Programme of the Ministry of Education of the Czech Republic (LO1214) and by the CELSPAC: Central European Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood (MUNI/M/1075/2013) support programme.

Author contributions

JBV was responsible for the design and interpretation of all study data, and drafted the manuscript. FZ was responsible for conducting the data analysis and interpretation of results. TP, JN, AP, OM, LA and PČ were responsible for the evaluation of the dietary data in the context of the early 90s in the Central Europe and contributed to manuscript preparation. JŠ was responsible for the appropriate data management and participated in the statistical analyses. HP supervised the analyses and critically revised the manuscript. All authors contributed to the intellectual content and approved the final version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to J Bienertová-Vašků.

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Supplementary Information accompanies this paper on European Journal of Clinical Nutrition website

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Bienertová-Vašků, J., Zlámal, F., Pruša, T. et al. Parental heights and maternal education as predictors of length/height of children at birth, age 3 and 19 years, independently on diet: the ELSPAC study. Eur J Clin Nutr 71, 1193–1199 (2017).

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