Sex differences in early growth during the first three years of life in offspring from mothers with pregnancy-induced hypertension

Pregnancy Hypertens. 2016 Oct;6(4):361-366. doi: 10.1016/j.preghy.2016.08.238. Epub 2016 Sep 13.


Objectives: Newborns born to mothers with pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) are thought to be at high risk for lifestyle-related diseases, such as obesity and hypertension, in adulthood.

Study design: A longitudinal study of 78 pregnant women with PIH and their newborns, who visited Okayama University Hospital from 2009 to 2013.

Main outcome measures: We investigated the change in growth of offspring born to mothers with PIH and compared it with the standard growth curve in Japanese to examine whether there was rapid catch-up growth during the first 3years of life.

Results: Subjects were 78 pregnant women with PIH and their offspring, who visited Okayama University Hospital from 2009 to 2013. Valid responses were obtained from 29 of 78 (37.1%) women. Body weight and length at birth were at the third percentile or less in females, and at the 10th percentile or less, in males. When body weight and length were compared at 6months, 18months, and 3years old between male and female toddlers, male toddlers slowly caught up until 3years old, but female toddlers rapidly caught up in the first 6months. Furthermore, in newborns with fetal growth restriction caused by the intrauterine environment of PIH, differences in physical development between male and female toddlers were more remarkable.

Conclusions: There is a significant sex difference in catch-up growth during the first 3years, which might be involved in lifestyle-related diseases in adulthood, suggesting continuous follow-up is necessary, especially for female offspring.

Keywords: Catch-up growth; Fetal growth restriction; Pregnancy-induced hypertension; Sex; Toddler.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Birth Weight*
  • Body Height*
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / etiology*
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / physiopathology
  • Growth Charts
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pregnancy-Induced* / physiopathology
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors