Maternal Obesity: Lifelong Metabolic Outcomes for Offspring from Poor Developmental Trajectories During the Perinatal Period

Arch Med Res. 2016 Jan;47(1):1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.arcmed.2016.01.004. Epub 2016 Jan 28.


The prevalence of obesity in women of reproductive age is increasing in developed and developing countries around the world. Human and animal studies indicate that maternal obesity adversely impacts both maternal health and offspring phenotype, predisposing them to chronic diseases later in life including obesity, dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and hypertension. Several mechanisms act together to produce these adverse health effects including programming of hypothalamic appetite-regulating centers, increasing maternal, fetal and offspring glucocorticoid production, changes in maternal metabolism and increasing maternal oxidative stress. Effective interventions during human pregnancy are needed to prevent both maternal and offspring metabolic dysfunction due to maternal obesity. This review addresses the relationship between maternal obesity and its negative impact on offspring development and presents some maternal intervention studies that propose strategies to prevent adverse offspring metabolic outcomes.

Keywords: Developmental programming; Dietary intervention; Fetal programming; Maternal obesity; Metabolic syndrome; Offspring phenotype.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetite
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / biosynthesis
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Diseases / etiology
  • Metabolic Diseases / metabolism*
  • Metabolic Diseases / physiopathology
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / etiology
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / metabolism*
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / physiopathology
  • Mothers*
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects


  • Glucocorticoids