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J Nutr. 2013 May;143(5):576-83. doi: 10.3945/jn.112.171181. Epub 2013 Mar 27.

Prenatal lipid-based nutrient supplements increase cord leptin concentration in pregnant women from rural Burkina Faso.

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Department of Food Safety and Food Quality, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.


In developing countries, prenatal lipid-based nutrient supplements (LNSs) were shown to increase birth size; however, the mechanism of this effect remains unknown. Cord blood hormone concentrations are strongly associated with birth size. Therefore, we hypothesize that LNSs increase birth size through a change in the endocrine regulation of fetal development. We compared the effect of daily prenatal LNSs with multiple micronutrient tablets on cord blood hormone concentrations using a randomized, controlled design including 197 pregnant women from rural Burkina Faso. Insulin-like growth factors (IGF) I and II, their binding proteins IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-3, leptin, cortisol, and insulin were quantified in cord sera using immunoassays. LNS was associated with higher cord blood leptin mainly in primigravidae (+57%; P = 0.02) and women from the highest tertile of BMI at study inclusion (+41%; P = 0.02). We did not find any significant LNS effects on other measured cord hormones. The observed increase in cord leptin was associated with a significantly higher birth weight. Cord sera from small-for-gestational age newborns had lower median IGF-I (-9 μg/L; P = 0.003), IGF-II (-79 μg/L; P = 0.003), IGFBP-3 (-0.7 μg/L; P = 0.007), and leptin (-1.0 μg/L; P = 0.016) concentrations but higher median cortisol (+18 μg/L; P = 0.037) concentrations compared with normally grown newborns. Prenatal LNS resulted in increased cord leptin concentrations in primigravidae and mothers with higher BMI at study inclusion. The elevated leptin concentrations could point toward a higher neonatal fat mass.


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