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19-07-2012 | Gynaecology | Article

Maternal fat indicates birthweight

Abstract

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MedWire News: Measuring hip circumference during pregnancy may help to predict a child's size at birth, report Canadian researchers.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to show that peripheral adiposity markers are related to offspring birth size in women with and without diabetes," they say.

The study of 21 women who had gestational diabetes and 27 who had normal glucose tolerance showed that hip measurements taken at 31 to 34 weeks of gestation significantly correlated with other markers of peripheral adiposity and with offspring length, across the entire study population.

In all women, both offspring length and weight correlated with maternal weight and tricep skinfold thickness at 32 weeks.

Multivariate analysis showed that hip circumference was the strongest predictor of infant birthweight and length, accounting for a respective 14.1% and 9.7% of the variance in each parameter.

John Weisnagel (Laval University Medical Research Centre, Quebec) and colleagues report that the mean weight gain among the women during pregnancy was 13.8 kg, and according to the Institute of Medicine's guidelines, 51% of the women gained more weight than recommended.

"Neonates of overweight and obese women have been recognized as being significantly heavier at birth compared with those from lean or average-weight women because of an increase in fat and not lean body mass," they write in Diabetes and Metabolism.

It is now known that infants that are born with a higher birthweight are more likely to have a high body mass index in later life, along with the associated detrimental health consequences, remark the researchers.

Therefore, noninvasive methods that can estimate infant growth parameters may help to mitigate future health consequences in such offspring, they suggest.

In pregnant women with or without diabetes, measuring the third-trimester hip circumference may be helpful in this regard, concludes the team.

By Sally Robertson

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