Comparison of associations of maternal peri-pregnancy and paternal anthropometrics with child anthropometrics from birth through age 7 y assessed in the Danish National Birth Cohort1,2

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Maternal prepregnancy adiposity may influence child adiposity beyond the transmitted genetic effects, which, if true, may accelerate the obesity epidemic, but the evidence for this mechanism is inconsistent.


The aim was to assess whether the associations of maternal body mass index (BMI) with child anthropometric measurements from birth through infancy and at 7 y of age exceed those of paternal associations.


In the Danish National Birth Cohort, information on parental and child anthropometric measures is available for 30,655 trio families from maternal interviews during pregnancy and the postpartum period and from a 7-y follow-up. By using multiple linear and logistic regression models of child SD (z) scores of weight and BMI at birth, 5 mo, 12 mo, and 7 y of age, and of child overweight at age 7 y, we compared associations with maternal prepregnancy and postpartum BMI z scores and with paternal BMI z scores.


When comparing maternal-child and paternal-child BMI z score associations, the strongest associations were observed with mothers’ BMI at birth [maternal and paternal BMI z scores: 0.143 (95% CI: 0.130, 0.155) and 0.017 (95% CI: 0.005, 0.029), respectively] and throughout infancy, but the relative difference in the associations declined by child age [for BMI z score at child age 7 y per maternal and paternal BMI z scores: 0.208 (95% CI: 0.196, 0.220) and 0.154 (95% CI: 0.143, 0.166), respectively]. At 7 y of age, ORs of child overweight were 2.30 (95% CI: 1.99, 2.67) by maternal overweight and 1.96 (95% CI: 1.74, 2.21) by paternal overweight. There were no differences between the results based on maternal BMI before and after pregnancy or on child's weight adjusted for length or height.


The associations of child weight and BMI with maternal BMI were stronger than with paternal BMI. The differences between the associations were strong at birth but declined with child aging.

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