Background: Prenatal exposure to dietary protein may program growth-regulating hormones, consequently influencing early-life growth patterns and later risk of associated chronic diseases. The insulin-like growth factor (IGF) axis is of particular interest in this context given its influence on pre- and postnatal growth and its sensitivity to the early nutritional environment.Objective: Our objective was to examine associations of maternal protein intake during pregnancy with cord blood concentrations of IGF-I, IGF-II, IGF binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3), and insulin.Methods: We studied 938 mother-child pairs from early pregnancy through delivery in the Project Viva cohort. Using multivariable linear regression models adjusted for maternal race/ethnicity, education, income, smoking, parity, height, and gestational weight gain and for child sex, we examined associations of second-trimester maternal protein intake [grams per kilogram (weight before pregnancy) per day], as reported on a food frequency questionnaire, with IGF-I, IGF-II, IGFBP-3, and insulin concentrations in cord blood. We also examined how these associations may differ by child sex and parity.Results: Mothers were predominantly white (71%), college-educated (64%), and nonsmokers (67%). Mean ± SD protein intake was 1.35 ± 0.35 g ⋅ kg-1 ⋅ d-1 Each 1-SD increment in second-trimester protein intake corresponded to a change of -0.50 ng/mL (95% CI: -2.26, 1.26 ng/mL) in IGF-I and -0.91 μU/mL (95% CI: -1.45, -0.37 μU/mL) in insulin. Child sex and parity modified associations of maternal protein intake with IGF-II and IGFBP-3: protein intake was inversely associated with IGF-II in girls (P-interaction = 0.04) and multiparous mothers (P-interaction = 0.05), and with IGFBP-3 in multiparous mothers (P-interaction = 0.04).Conclusions: In a cohort of pregnant women with relatively high mean protein intakes, higher intake was associated with lower concentrations of growth-promoting hormones in cord blood, suggesting a pathway that may link higher protein intake to lower fetal growth. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT02820402.
Keywords: IGF axis; Project Viva; cohort; fetal growth; growth-promoting hormones; prenatal nutrition; protein.
© 2017 American Society for Nutrition.