Being macrosomic at birth is an independent predictor of overweight in children: results from the IDEFICS study

Matern Child Health J. 2013 Oct;17(8):1373-81. doi: 10.1007/s10995-012-1136-2.


Fetal macrosomia is a risk factor for the development of obesity late in childhood. We retrospectively evaluated the relationship between maternal conditions associated with fetal macrosomia and actual overweight/obesity in the European cohort of children participating in the IDEFICS study. Anthropometric variables, blood pressure and plasma lipids and glucose were measured. Socio-demographic data, medical history and perinatal factors, familiar and gestational history, maternal and/or gestational diabetes were assessed by a questionnaire. Variables of interest were reported for 10,468 children (M/F = 5,294/5,174; age 6.0 ± 1.8 years, M ± SD). The sample was divided in four groups according to child birth weight (BW) and maternal diabetes: (1) adequate for gestational age offspring (BW between the 10th and 90th percentiles for gestational age) of mothers without diabetes (AGA-ND); (2) adequate for gestational age offspring of mothers with diabetes (AGA-D); (3) macrosomic offspring (BW > 90th percentile for gestational age) of mothers without diabetes (Macro-ND); (4) macrosomic offspring of mothers with diabetes (Macro-D). Children macrosomic at birth showed significantly higher actual values of body mass index, waist circumference, and sum of skinfold thickness. In both boys and girls, Macro-ND was an independent determinant of overweight/obesity, after the adjustment for confounders [Boys: OR = 1.7 95 % CI (1.3;2.2); Girls: OR = 1.6 95 % CI (1.3;2.0)], while Macro-D showed a significant association only in girls [OR = 2.6 95 % CI (1.1;6.4)]. Fetal macrosomia, also in the absence of maternal/gestational diabetes, is independently associated with the development of overweight/obesity during childhood. Improving the understanding of fetal programming will contribute to the early prevention of childhood overweight/obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anthropometry
  • Birth Weight
  • Blood Glucose
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes, Gestational / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Fetal Macrosomia / epidemiology*
  • Fetal Macrosomia / etiology
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Overweight / complications*
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Complications / etiology
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Blood Glucose