Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease

Original Articles

Pre- and postnatal determinants of childhood body size: cohort and sibling analyses

M. B. Terrya1a2 c1, Y. Weia3, D. Essermana4a5, I. W. McKeaguea3 and E. Sussera1a2a6

a1 Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University Medical Center, Mailman School of Public Health, New York, NY, USA

a2 The Imprints Center for Genetic and Environmental Lifecourse Studies, Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY, USA

a3 Department of Biostatistics, Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health, New York, NY, USA

a4 Department of Biostatistics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

a5 Department of Medicine, Division of General Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

a6 Departmant of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY, USA

Abstract

Growing evidence suggests obesity may have its roots in early life but it is still uncertain whether prenatal factors operate primarily though altering early infant growth. It is also still unclear if rapid growth during selected time periods is more important than other time periods in predicting future body size. Using prospectively collected data on 20,523 participants born from 1959 to 1966 (10,327 boys; 10,196 girls) of the Collaborative Perinatal Project, we investigated the associations between pre- and postnatal factors and childhood body size at age 7 years and compared these associations across linear, logistic and quantile regression models. Maternal body mass index (BMI), maternal pregnancy weight gain, birth weight and postnatal weight change for three time periods (birth to 4 months; 4–12 months; 1–4 years) were all positively and independently associated with BMI at age 7 years. Rapid growth during each time period had a similar association BMI at age 7 years. For example, a 10-percentile increase in weight increased the probability of being overweight at age 7 years by approximately two-fold regardless of time period (OR = 1.8–2.2 for boys and girls). Using same-sex siblings (n = 571 boy sets; n = 651 girl sets) from the same cohort, we observed that siblings with higher BMI at age 7 years than their same-sex siblings were more likely to have higher maternal pregnancy weight gain, higher maternal pre-pregnancy BMI, higher birth weight and increased rate of weight gain during the three time periods. These consistent findings both from the overall cohort and the sibling analyses suggest that there are multiple, rather than specific critical periods of influence shaping childhood body size.

(Online publication March 02 2011)

Correspondence

c1 Address for correspondence: M. B. Terry, PhD, Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University Medical Center, Mailman School of Public Health, 722 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA. (Email mt146@columbia.edu)

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