Associations of maternal and cord blood adipokines with offspring adiposity in Project Viva: is there an interaction with child age?

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Higher leptin and lower adiponectin correlate with adult and childhood adiposity, but it is unclear how exposure to these adipokines during gestation relates to offspring growth. We aimed to investigate the relationships of maternal and cord adipokines with offspring adiposity across childhood to early adolescence, as well as interactions with child age.


In mother-child pairs in the Project Viva cohort, we measured adipokines in mothers at second trimester (n = 1106) and in cord blood at birth (n = 657). We measured offspring adiposity indices at early childhood (mean 3.3 ± s.d. 0.3 years), midchildhood (7.9 ± 0.8 years) and early adolescence (13.2 ± 0.9 years). We analyzed associations of maternal and cord adipokines with offspring longitudinal adiposity using a linear mixed model adjusting for pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI), gestational weight gain (GWG), and other confounders.


Mothers with higher BMI and GWG had higher leptin. Offspring born to mothers with the highest vs lowest quartile of leptin had lower BMI z-score (-0.49 units, 95% confidence interval (CI): - 0.72, - 0.26), waist circumference (-2.6 cm, 95% CI: - 3.7, - 1.5) and sum of subscapular and triceps skinfolds (-2.8 mm, 95% CI: - 4.1, - 1.4) in early life. An interaction term between maternal leptin and child age was positive, suggesting that the associations between maternal leptin and child adiposity were not constant over time. Offspring born to mothers with lowest vs highest quartile of maternal adiponectin had lower early life adiposity (BMI z-score - 0.27 units, 95% CI: - 0.48, - 0.05). Results were similar for cord leptin but not cord adiponectin.


Our findings showed higher maternal and cord leptin, and lower maternal adiponectin are associated with lower offspring adiposity from childhood to early adolescence, independent of maternal BMI and GWG. However, the strength of these associations was not constant over time.

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