Article | Published:

Pediatrics

Maternal metabolic factors during pregnancy predict early childhood growth trajectories and obesity risk: the CANDLE Study

International Journal of Obesity (2019) | Download Citation

Abstract

Background

We investigated the individual and additive effects of three modifiable maternal metabolic factors, including pre-pregnancy overweight/obesity, gestational weight gain (GWG), and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), on early childhood growth trajectories and obesity risk.

Methods

A total of 1425 mother–offspring dyads (953 black and 472 white) from a longitudinal birth cohort were included in this study. Latent class growth modeling was performed to identify the trajectories of body mass index (BMI) from birth to 4 years in children. Poisson regression models were used to examine the associations between the maternal metabolic risk factors and child BMI trajectories and obesity risk at 4 years.

Results

We identified three discrete BMI trajectory groups, characterized as rising-high-BMI (12.6%), moderate-BMI (61.0%), or low-BMI (26.4%) growth. Both maternal pre-pregnancy obesity (adjusted relative risk [adjRR] = 1.96; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.36–2.83) and excessive GWG (adjRR = 1.71, 95% CI: 1.13–2.58) were significantly associated with the rising-high-BMI trajectory, as manifested by rapid weight gain during infancy and a stable but high BMI until 4 years. All three maternal metabolic indices were significantly associated with childhood obesity at age 4 years (adjRR for pre-pregnancy obesity = 2.24, 95% CI: 1.62–3.10; adjRR for excessive GWG = 1.46, 95% CI: 1.01–2.09; and adjRR for GDM = 2.14, 95% = 1.47–3.12). In addition, risk of rising-high BMI trajectory or obesity at age 4 years was stronger among mothers with more than one metabolic risk factor. We did not observe any difference in these associations by race.

Conclusion

Maternal pre-pregnancy obesity, excessive GWG, and GDM individually and jointly predict rapid growth and obesity at age 4 years in offspring, regardless of race. Interventions targeting maternal obesity and metabolism may prevent or slow the rate of development of childhood obesity.

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Acknowledgements

The CANDLE study was supported by the Urban Child Institute, the University of Tennessee Heath Science Center, and NIH (1R01HL109977) grants.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN, 38163, USA

    • Zunsong Hu
    • , Frances A. Tylavsky
    • , Mehmet Kocak
    • , Jay H. Fowke
    •  & Qi Zhao
  2. Departments of Pediatrics and Physiology, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN, 38103, USA

    • Joan C. Han
  3. Children’s Foundation Research Institute, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, Memphis, TN, 38103, USA

    • Joan C. Han
  4. Department of Pediatrics, Center for Biomedical Informatics, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN, 38103, USA

    • Robert L. Davis
  5. Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, 94118, USA

    • Kaja Lewinn
  6. Departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, 94118, USA

    • Nicole R. Bush

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Qi Zhao.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41366-019-0326-z