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Nutrition during the early life cycle

Grain consumption before and during pregnancy and birth weight in Japan: the Tohoku Medical Megabank Project Birth and Three-Generation Cohort Study



Studies have reported the effects of grain consumption on human health, but the association between maternal grain consumption before and during pregnancy and birth weight remains unclear. We evaluated the association between maternal grain consumption before and during pregnancy and birth weight/low birth weight (LBW).


Grain consumption was calculated using two semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaires (FFQs). The two FFQs evaluated consumption from pre- to early pregnancy and then from early to mid-pregnancy, respectively. Information concerning birth weight was obtained from birth records, and multivariable analyses for birth weight and LBW risk were conducted after adjusting for potential confounders.


In total, 17,610 pregnant women (age, 31.8 ± 4.9 years; smoked during pregnancy, 16.1%; gestation period, 38.5 ± 2.5 weeks; first childbirth, 45.5%) and their singleton and term new-borns (birth weight, 3061.8 ± 354.1 g; LBW, 5.4%) were included in the analysis. Women in the highest quartile of grain consumption from pre- to early pregnancy had heavier new-borns (β = 22.3; 95% confidence interval (CI): 5.8–38.9) but did not have a significantly lower LBW risk (odds ratio [OR]: 0.87; 95% CI: 0.71–1.07) than women in the lowest quartile. Women in the highest quartile of grain consumption from early to mid-pregnancy also had heavier new-borns (β = 24.1; 95% CI: 7.1–41.1) but did not have a significantly lower LBW risk (OR: 0.85; 95% CI: 0.69–1.05) than women in the lowest quartile.


Grain consumption before and during pregnancy was positively associated with birth weight.

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Fig. 1: Flow chart of participant exclusion criteria in this study.


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We are sincerely grateful to the participants of the TMM BirThree Cohort Study and the staff of the Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization, Tohoku University. The full list of members is available at We would also like to thank Editage ( for English language editing.


This work was supported by the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED), Japan (grant number, JP20km0105001). KAGOME CO., LTD., provided support in the form of salaries for authors YY, TY, SS, and HS.

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YY designed the study, analyzed the data, wrote the manuscript, and was primarily responsible for the final content. TO and SK reviewed the drafts. TO, MI, JS, and SK contributed to data collection. All authors provided critical feedback and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Taku Obara.

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YY, TY, SS, and HS are employees of KAGOME CO., LTD. YY and TY are collaborative researchers of Tohoku University and KAGOME CO., LTD. None of the other authors have reported a conflict of interest related to the study.

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Yonezawa, Y., Obara, T., Yamashita, T. et al. Grain consumption before and during pregnancy and birth weight in Japan: the Tohoku Medical Megabank Project Birth and Three-Generation Cohort Study. Eur J Clin Nutr 76, 261–269 (2022).

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