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Am J Epidemiol. 2011 Nov 15;174(10):1159-65. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwr250. Epub 2011 Oct 7.

Prepregnancy body mass index and gestational weight gain in relation to child body mass index among siblings.

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  • 1National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3311 Toledo Road, Hyattsville, MD 20782, USA. ambranum@cdc.gov


There is increasing evidence that in utero effects of excessive gestational weight gain may result in increased weight in children; however, studies have not controlled for shared genetic or environmental factors between mothers and children. Using 2,758 family groups from the Collaborative Perinatal Project, the authors examined the association of maternal prepregnancy body mass index (BMI) and gestational weight gain on child BMI at age 4 years using both conventional generalized estimating equations and fixed-effects models that account for shared familial factors. With generalized estimating equations, prepregnancy BMI and gestational weight gain had similar associations with the child BMI z score (β = 0.09 units, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.08, 0.11; and β = 0.07 units, 95% CI: 0.04, 0.11, respectively. However, fixed effects resulted in null associations for both prepregnancy BMI (β = 0.03 units, 95% CI: -0.01, 0.07) and gestational weight gain (β = 0.03 units, 95% CI: -0.02, 0.08) with child BMI z score at age 4 years. The positive association between gestational weight gain and child BMI at age 4 years may be explained by shared family characteristics (e.g., genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors) rather than in utero programming. Future studies should continue to evaluate the relative roles of important familial and environmental factors that may influence BMI and obesity in children.

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