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Acta Paediatr. 2004 Mar;93(3):346-9.

Maternal predictors of subcutaneous fat in the term newborn.

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CNRS UPR 2147, Paris, France.



To determine the relative influences of some maternal factors on skinfold thickness. The effects of age, parity, height, body mass index (BMI) and pregnancy weight gain (PWG) of the mother on the subscapular skinfold thickness (SST) of the newborn were estimated, and compared with their effects on birthweight (BW), crown-heel length (CHL) and head circumference (HC).


A sample of 13, 972 healthy, term singletons was selected at the Clamart Maternity Hospital (France). Stepwise regressions were used to determine the most predictive maternal factors for each parameter in the newborn. The respective effects of the mother's age and parity on each newborn dimension were tested by analysis of variance.


The SST is a singular parameter, influenced by the mother's BMI and PWG, but not by her height. In contrast, the main predictor of BW, CHL and HC is the height of the mother, and to a lesser extent her PWG and BMI. Parity and maternal age have a smaller effect, except on SST, and essentially between the first and second pregnancies.


These results clearly separate SST from other newborn dimensions. The skinfold thickness depends only on the nutritional status of the mother, while other dimensions are markedly influenced by the genetic background. This study is the first to demonstrate the singularity of skinfold thickness in newborn infants as a marker of the mother's nutritional status.

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