Maternal Dietary Patterns during Pregnancy Are Associated with Newborn Body Composition

J Nutr. 2017 Jul;147(7):1334-1339. doi: 10.3945/jn.117.248948. Epub 2017 May 24.


Background: Maternal dietary intake during pregnancy may influence offspring growth and adiposity. Specific dietary patterns associated with newborn adiposity have not been identified.Objective: We aimed to identify patterns of maternal dietary intake associated with gestational weight gain (GWG) and fasting glucose during pregnancy and to evaluate whether adherence to these patterns is associated with newborn adiposity.Methods: In the Healthy Start prospective cohort, dietary intake during pregnancy was assessed via 24-h recalls. Reduced-rank regression identified dietary patterns predictive of GWG and fasting glucose. Associations between dietary patterns and newborn fat mass, fat-free mass, and adiposity were estimated by using linear regression models among 764 ethnically diverse mother-infant pairs.Results: Two dietary patterns were identified. Pattern 1, correlated with greater GWG (r = 0.22, P < 0.01), was characterized by a higher consumption of poultry, nuts, cheese, fruits, whole grains, added sugars, and solid fats. Greater adherence to pattern 1 (upper compared with lower tertile) predicted a greater newborn fat-free mass (61 g; 95% CI: 12, 110 g) but no difference in fat mass or adiposity. Pattern 2, correlated with greater maternal fasting glucose (r = 0.16, P < 0.01), was characterized by a higher consumption of eggs, starchy vegetables, solid fats, fruits, and nonwhole grains and a lower consumption of dairy foods, dark-green vegetables, and whole grains. Greater adherence to pattern 2 was associated with a greater newborn birth weight (80 g; 95% CI: 15, 145 g), fat mass (33 g; 95% CI: 8, 59 g), and adiposity (0.9%; 95% CI: 0.3%, 1.6%).Conclusions: Among pregnant women, adherence to a dietary pattern characterized by an intake of poultry, nuts, cheese, and whole grains was associated with greater GWG but not maternal fasting glucose or newborn adiposity. Adherence to a pattern characterized by an intake of eggs, starchy vegetables, and nonwhole grains was associated with higher maternal fasting glucose and greater newborn adiposity. Maternal dietary patterns during pregnancy may influence newborn body composition.

Keywords: adiposity; air displacement plethysmography; body composition; dietary patterns; food groups; pregnancy; reduced rank regression.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Adiposity / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colorado
  • Diet Records
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Glucose / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Weight Gain


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glucose