You’ve heard your mom and grandmother say this: when you are pregnant, you are actually eating for two. Don’t fall for it. A recent study has found that an overfed fetus may end up as an overweight adolescent too. The study suggests that higher levels of blood markers in the umbilical cord indicate that the baby has more fat and may continue having more fat into late childhood and adolescence.
The cord blood markers leptin and adiponectin indicate the degree of fat in the child at birth, but the relationships between these markers and the offspring’s risk of obesity in later life is not clear. Lead author Joy Simpson from the University of Glasgow said that birth-weight was positively associated with fat mass, waist circumference and body mass index at age 9 and 17.
She added that fetal over-nutrition may facilitate fetal growth and fat accretion, as determined by cord leptin and birth-weight and may program greater adiposity in the child that extends into childhood and adolescence.
To examine the association of cord-blood leptin, adiponectin and birth-weight with childhood and adolescent fat, Simpson and her colleagues measured blood taken from the umbilical cord at birth in 5,011 mothers and children who were part of an existing study in the United Kingdom.
“This work highlights the importance of optimizing maternal health before and during pregnancy to improve offspring health and limit the translation of greater adiposity onto future generations,” Simpson advised.
The results are presented at ENDO 2016, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Boston.