Leptin levels in cord blood and anthropometric measures at birth: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2011 Mar;25(2):150-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3016.2010.01163.x. Epub 2010 Dec 9.


The role of intrauterine environment in the development of obesity is increasingly recognised. Adipokines and specifically leptin have been examined as potential biomarkers predicting early development of obesity. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of the epidemiological evidence for the association between leptin levels in cord blood and anthropometric measurements at birth in healthy mother-newborn pairs. A PubMed search was performed between 1994 and 2009 and manual search of reference lists of retrieved articles. Forty-four studies met the inclusion criteria set. All studies reported a positive correlation between leptin levels and birthweight. The combined correlation coefficient (r) was 0.46 [95%CI 0.43, 0.50]. Leptin levels explained 21% of variation in birthweight. Results were similar in males (r=0.55; 0.40, 0.68) and females (r=0.60; 0.50, 0.69), and between Caucasians (r=0.45; 0.39, 0.51) and eastern Asian populations (r=0.47; 0.37, 0.55). Statistically significant positive correlations were also found for birth length (r=0.29; 0.23, 0.34) and ponderal index (r=0.36; 0.31, 0.41). There was no indication of publication bias (Egger's test P-value=0.23). This meta-analysis shows a clear but moderate correlation between leptin levels in cord blood and birthweight that is observed in different population groups.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Size
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Leptin / blood*
  • Male
  • Pregnancy


  • Leptin