Maternal Macronutrient Intake during Pregnancy Is Associated with Neonatal Abdominal Adiposity: The Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) Study1–4

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Infant body composition has been associated with later metabolic disease risk, but few studies have examined the association between maternal macronutrient intake and neonatal body composition. Furthermore, most of those studies have used proxy measures of body composition that may not reflect body fat distribution, particularly abdominal internal adiposity.


We investigated the relation between maternal macronutrient intake and neonatal abdominal adiposity measured by using MRI in a multiethnic Asian mother-offspring cohort.


The macronutrient intake of mothers was ascertained by using a 24-h dietary recall at 26–28 wk gestation. Neonatal abdominal adiposity was assessed by using MRI in week 2 of life. Mother-offspring dyads with complete macronutrient intake and adiposity information (n = 320) were included in the analysis. Associations were assessed by both substitution and addition models with the use of multivariable linear regressions.


Mothers (mean age: 30 y) consumed (mean ± SD) 15.5% ± 4.3% of their energy from protein, 32.4% ± 7.7% from fat, and 52.1% ± 9.0% from carbohydrate. A higher-protein, lower-carbohydrate or -fat diet during pregnancy was associated with lower abdominal internal adipose tissue (IAT) in the neonates [β (95% CI): -0.18 mL (-0.35, -0.001 mL) per 1% protein-to-carbohydrate substitution and -0.25 mL (-0.46, -0.04 mL) per 1% protein-to-fat substitution]. These associations were stronger in boys than in girls (P-interaction < 0.05). Higher maternal intake of animal protein, but not plant protein, was associated with lower offspring IAT. In contrast, maternal macronutrient intake was not associated consistently with infant anthropometric measurements, including abdominal circumference and subscapular skinfold thickness.


Higher maternal protein intake at the expense of carbohydrate or fat intake at 26–28 wk gestation was associated with lower abdominal internal adiposity in neonates. Optimizing maternal dietary balance might be a new approach to improve offspring body composition. This trial was registered at as NCT01174875.

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