Exploring the association between maternal prenatal multivitamin use and early infant growth: The Healthy Start Study

Pediatr Obes. 2016 Oct;11(5):434-41. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12084. Epub 2015 Dec 11.


Background: Prenatal multivitamin supplementation is recommended to improve offspring outcomes, but effects on early infant growth are unknown.

Objectives: We examined whether multivitamin supplementation in the year before delivery predicts offspring mass, body composition and early infant growth.

Methods: Multivitamin use was assessed longitudinally in 626 women from the Healthy Start Study. Offspring body size and composition was measured with air displacement plethysmography at birth (<3 days) and postnatally (median 5.2 months). Separate multiple linear regressions assessed the relationship of weeks of daily multivitamin use with offspring mass, body composition and postnatal growth, after adjustment for potential confounders (maternal age, race, pre-pregnant body mass index; offspring gestational age at birth, sex; breastfeeding exclusivity).

Results: Maternal multivitamin use was not related to offspring mass or body composition at birth, or rate of change in total or fat-free mass in the first 5 months. Multivitamin use was inversely associated with average monthly growth in offspring percent fat mass (β = -0.009, p = 0.049) between birth and postnatal exam. Offspring of non-users had a monthly increase in percent fat mass of 3.45%, while offspring at the top quartile of multivitamin users had a monthly increase in percent fat mass of 3.06%. This association was not modified by exclusive breastfeeding.

Conclusions: Increased multivitamin use in the pre-conception and prenatal periods was associated with a slower rate of growth in offspring percent fat mass in the first 5 months of life. This study provides further evidence that in utero nutrient exposures may affect offspring adiposity beyond birth.

Keywords: adiposity; body composition; fetal programming; pregnancy; prenatal vitamins.

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / drug effects*
  • Adult
  • Birth Weight / drug effects*
  • Body Composition / drug effects*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Breast Feeding
  • Child Development / drug effects*
  • Dietary Supplements / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Plethysmography
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use*
  • Weight Gain


  • Vitamins