Context: Maternal pre-pregnancy obesity may increase the risk of childhood obesity but it is unknown whether other metabolic factors in early pregnancy such as lipid profile and hypertension are associated with offspring cardiometabolic traits.
Objective: Our objective was to investigate whether fasting lipid, glucose, and insulin levels during early pregnancy and maternal pre-pregnancy weight status, are associated with offspring adiposity measures, lipid levels and blood pressure at preschool age.
Design and methods: The study included 618 mother-child pairs of the pregnancy cohort "Rhea" study in Crete, Greece. Pregnant women were recruited at the first prenatal visit (mean: 12 weeks, SD: 0.7). A subset of 348 women provided fasting serum samples for glucose and lipid measurements. Outcomes measures were body mass index, abdominal circumference, sum of skinfold thickness, and blood pressure measurements at 4 years of age. A subsample of 525 children provided non-fasting blood samples for lipid measurements.
Results: Pre-pregnancy overweight/obesity was associated with greater risk of offspring overweight/obesity (RR: 1.83, 95%CI: 1.19, 2.81), central adiposity (RR: 1.97, 95%CI: 1.11, 3.49), and greater fat mass by 5.10 mm (95%CI: 2.49, 7.71) at 4 years of age. These associations were more pronounced in girls. An increase of 40 mg/dl in fasting serum cholesterol levels in early pregnancy was associated with greater skinfold thickness by 3.30 mm (95%CI: 1.41, 5.20) at 4 years of age after adjusting for pre-pregnancy BMI and several other confounders. An increase of 10 mmHg in diastolic blood pressure in early pregnancy was associated with increased risk of offspring overweight/obesity (RR: 1.22, 95%CI: 1.03, 1.45), and greater skinfold thickness by 1.71 mm (95% CI: 0.57, 2.86) at 4 years of age.
Conclusions: Metabolic dysregulation in early pregnancy may increase the risk of obesity at preschool age.