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Maternal dietary fat intake during pregnancy and newborn body composition



Increased infant birth weight and adiposity are associated with an altered risk of adult chronic diseases. The objective was to investigate the association between maternal dietary fat intake during pregnancy and newborn adiposity.

Study design

The study included 79 singleton pregnancies. Associations between maternal dietary fat intake during each trimester and infant adiposity at birth were assessed.


Average total grams of maternal total dietary fat and unsaturated fat intake during pregnancy correlated with infant percent body fat after adjusting for potential confounding variables (r = 0.23, p = 0.045; r = 0.24, p = 0.037). Maternal average daily intake of total fat, saturated fat, and unsaturated fat during the second trimester of pregnancy were each associated with infant percent body fat (r = 0.25, p = 0.029; r = 0.23, p = 0.046; r = 0.25, p = 0.031; respectively).


The second trimester of pregnancy is a key time period for fetal adipose tissue metabolic programming and therefore a target for nutritional intervention.

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We gratefully acknowledge Michael Lasarev, MS, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR for his statistical advice, the support provided as part of assistance to students in the OHSU Graduate Program of Clinical Nutrition, and the mothers and infants who participated in the Maternal Body Composition Study.


NEM is supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health (grant number K23HD069520-01A1), and the Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute (UL1TR002369).

Author information




NM collected the data. NM, ND, KT, JP, JH, and MG designed the study. NM and ND analyzed the results. NM and ND drafted the work, KT, JP, JH, and MG revised it critically for important intellectual content. NM, ND, KT, JP, JH, and MG provided guidance and subject matter expertise to the project. All authors reviewed and approved of the final version.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Nicole E. Marshall.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Damen, N.A., Gillingham, M., Hansen, J.G. et al. Maternal dietary fat intake during pregnancy and newborn body composition. J Perinatol 41, 1007–1013 (2021).

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