Sex-specific effects of maternal anthropometrics on body composition at birth

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2014 Sep;211(3):292.e1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2014.05.031. Epub 2014 May 22.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess whether maternal factors that are associated with fetal lean and fat mass differ between sexes.

Study design: Secondary analysis of a prospective cohort that delivered by scheduled cesarean section from 2004-2013. Maternal blood was collected before surgery for metabolic parameters. Placental weight and neonatal anthropometrics were measured within 48 hours. Anthropometric differences between sexes were assessed with the Student t test. Multiple stepwise regression analysis assessed the relationship between independent maternal variables and neonatal lean body mass (LBM), fat mass (FM), or percentage of fat as dependent variables in male and female infants combined and separately.

Results: We analyzed 360 women with normal glucose tolerance and a wide range of pregravid body mass index (16-64 kg/m(2)) and their offspring (male, 194; female, 166). Male infants had more FM (mean difference, 40 ± 18 g; P = .03) and LBM (mean difference, 158 ± 34 g; P < .0001) than female infants. Percentage of body fat and measured maternal variables did not differ between sexes. In both sexes, placental weight had the strongest correlation with both neonatal LBM and FM, which accounted for 20-39% of the variance. In male infants, maternal height, body mass index, and weight gain were significant predictors of both lean and fat mass. In female infants, plasma interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein, respectively, were associated independently with percentage of body fat and LBM.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that the body composition and inflammatory environment of the mother modulate the metabolic fitness of neonates, as predicted by fat and lean mass, in a sex-specific manner.

Keywords: inflammation; maternal BMI; neonatal anthropometry; placenta.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Height*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Maternal Age
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Characteristics