Impact of changes in maternal body composition on birth weight and neonatal fat mass in dichorionic twin pregnancies

Am J Clin Nutr. 2018 Oct 1;108(4):716-721. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy180.


Background: Although the impact of gestational weight gain (GWG) on birth weight in twin pregnancies has been demonstrated, the specific components of GWG have not been delineated for twin gestations. Fetal body composition has been shown to be modifiable in singleton gestations based on nutritional intervention strategies and may prove to have similar modifications in twin gestations.

Objective: We aimed to determine the relation of maternal body composition changes to birth weight, birth length, and neonatal fat mass (FM) in dichorionic-diamniotic twin pregnancies.

Design: This is a prospective study of 20 women with twin gestations. Comparisons were made between body composition variables during each trimester and for the entire pregnancy and compared with the outcomes of birth weight, neonatal fat percentage, and birth length.

Results: GWG within or above compared with below the IOM recommendations was associated with higher birth weights (P = 0.03, P = 0.04, respectively), but also with higher postpartum weight retention (P = 0.001). Total maternal protein gain over the pregnancy was positively associated with birth weight (P = 0.03). Changes in maternal fat-free mass (FFM), total body water (TBW), and FM from the first to the third trimester were not associated with either birth weight or neonatal FM percentage. However, maternal FM change from the second to the third trimester was significantly correlated to neonatal FM percentage (P = 0.02). Third trimester GWG and total protein gain were positively correlated with neonatal birth length (P = 0.02 and 0.03, respectively). Maternal FFM over all 3 trimesters showed a positive relation with neonatal birth length (P = 0.01).

Conclusions: Significant increases in maternal protein are associated with greater birth weight and neonatal birth length. Protein accretion, in contrast to TBW and FM gains, may be the most critical component of maternal GWG in dichorionic twin gestations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue*
  • Adult
  • Birth Weight*
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Fluid Compartments
  • Body Height
  • Body Water / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fetal Development / physiology*
  • Gestational Age
  • Gestational Weight Gain / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mothers
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Pregnancy Trimesters
  • Pregnancy, Twin*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Weight Gain


  • Proteins