Maternal childhood trauma is associated with offspring body size during the first year of life

Sci Rep. 2022 Nov 15;12(1):19619. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-23740-6.


Maternal childhood trauma (MCT) is an important factor affecting offspring size at birth. Whether the effect of MCT persists during the subsequent development remains unclear. We present the results of a semi-longitudinal investigation examining the physical growth of infants born to mothers with high (HCT) and low (LCT) childhood trauma during the first year of life. One hundred healthy mother-infant dyads were included based on following criteria: exclusive breastfeeding, birth on term with appropriate weight for gestational age. MCT was assessed using the Early Life Stress Questionnaire. The weight, length, and head circumference of the infant were taken at birth, 5 and 12 months postpartum. Separate MANCOVA models were run for infant size at each age. We found an association between MCT and infant size at 5 and 12 months. The children of mothers with HCT had higher weight and greater head circumference than the children of mothers with LCT. These results suggest that MCT might contribute to developmental programming of offspring growth during the first year of life. From an evolutionary perspective, the larger size of HCT mother's offspring might represent an adaptation to potentially harsh environmental conditions. This effect might be mediated by epigenetic changes to DNA and altered breast milk composition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences*
  • Birth Weight
  • Breast Feeding
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Milk, Human
  • Mothers
  • Overweight