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Differences in brain functional connectivity at resting state in neonates born to healthy obese or normal-weight mothers

International Journal of Obesity volume 40, pages 19311934 (2016) | Download Citation

Abstract

Recent studies have shown associations between maternal obesity at pre- or early pregnancy and long-term neurodevelopment in children, suggesting in utero effects of maternal obesity on offspring brain development. In this study, we examined whether brain functional connectivity to the prefrontal lobe network is different in newborns from normal-weight or obese mothers. Thirty-four full-term healthy infants from uncomplicated pregnancies were included, with 18 born to normal-weight and 16 born to obese mothers. Two weeks after delivery, the infants underwent an magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examination during natural sleep, which included structural imaging and resting-state functional MRI (fMRI) scans. Independent component analysis was used to identify the prefrontal lobe network, and dual regression was used to compare functional connectivity between groups. Infants born to normal-weight mothers had higher recruiting (P<0.05, corrected) of dorsal anterior cingulate cortex regions to the prefrontal network after adjusting for maternal intelligence quotient, gestational weight gain and infant postmenstrual age, gender, birth weight/length, head circumference and neonatal diet. The functional connectivity strength in dorsal anterior cingulate cortex negatively correlated (P<0.05) with maternal fat mass percentage measured at early pregnancy. This preliminary study indicates that exposure to maternal obesity in utero may be associated with changes in resting-state functional connectivity in the newborn offspring’s brain.

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Acknowledgements

These studies were supported in part by the USDA-ARS Project 6026-51000-010-05S, and the Marion B Lyon Award by the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute. We thank the staffs of the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center Clinical Research Core and the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Radiology MRI team for their assistance with these studies. We also thank Dr Sean Adams and Dr G Andrew James for their helpful discussion as well as reviewing this manuscript.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center, Little Rock, AR, USA

    • X Li
    • , A Andres
    • , K Shankar
    • , R T Pivik
    • , T M Badger
    •  & X Ou
  2. Department of Radiology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR, USA

    • X Li
    • , C M Glasier
    • , R H Ramakrishnaiah
    • , Y Zhang
    •  & X Ou
  3. Department of Pediatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR, USA

    • A Andres
    • , K Shankar
    • , R T Pivik
    • , C M Glasier
    • , T M Badger
    •  & X Ou
  4. Arkansas Children’s Research Institute, Little Rock, AR, USA

    • X Ou

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Competing interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to X Ou.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2016.166

Supplementary Information accompanies this paper on International Journal of Obesity website (http://www.nature.com/ijo)