The association between maternal pre-pregnancy BMI, gestational weight gain and child adiposity: A racial-ethnically diverse cohort of children

Pediatr Obes. 2022 Aug;17(8):e12911. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12911. Epub 2022 Mar 15.


Background: The prevalence of obesity in US children has more than tripled in the past 40 years; hence, it is critical to identify potentially modifiable factors that may mitigate the risk.

Objectives: To examine the association between maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI), gestational weight gain (GWG) and child adiposity as measured by BMI, waist circumference and percent body fat in a racial-ethnically diverse cohort.

Methods: In a prospective cohort study of healthy women without chronic disease, we examined the association between pre-pregnancy BMI, GWG and child adiposity. Children ages 4-8 years (n = 816) in the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes-NICHD Fetal Growth Studies were assessed. Trained study staff ascertained maternal pre-pregnancy BMI, GWG and child adiposity.

Results: The odds of child obesity (≥95th BMI percentile) increased independently for each unit increase in maternal pre-pregnancy BMI [OR = 1.12 (95% CI: 1.08, 1.17)] and for each 5-kg increase in GWG [OR = 1.25 (95% CI: 1.07, 1.47)]. The odds of child waist circumference (≥85th percentile) also increased independently for pre-pregnancy BMI [OR = 1.09 (95% CI: 1.05, 1.12)] and GWG [OR = 1.18 (95% CI: 1.04, 1.34)].

Conclusions: Maternal pre-pregnancy BMI and GWG were each independently and positively associated with child obesity and high child waist circumference.

Keywords: body mass index; gestational weight gain; paediatric obesity; pregnancy; prospective studies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Gestational Weight Gain*
  • Humans
  • Pediatric Obesity* / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight Gain