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PLoS One. 2015 Jul 24;10(7):e0133010. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0133010. eCollection 2015.

Maternal Obesity, Overweight and Gestational Diabetes Affect the Offspring Neurodevelopment at 6 and 18 Months of Age--A Follow Up from the PREOBE Cohort.

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Centre of Excellence for Paediatric Research EURISTIKOS, University of Granada, Granada, Spain.
Centre of Excellence for Paediatric Research EURISTIKOS, University of Granada, Granada, Spain; Department of Clinical Sciences, Pediatrics, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
Centre of Excellence for Paediatric Research EURISTIKOS, University of Granada, Granada, Spain; Department of Paediatrics, University of Granada, Granada, Spain.
R&D Department, Abbott Laboratories. Granada, Granada, Spain.
Mind, Brain and Behaviour International Research Centre (CIMCYC). University of Granada, Granada, Spain.



Brain development in fetal life and early infancy is critical to determine lifelong performance in various neuropsychological domains. Metabolic pathologies such as overweight, obesity, and gestational diabetes in pregnant women are prevalent and increasing risk factors that may adversely affect long-term brain development in their offspring.


The objective of this research was to investigate the influence of maternal metabolic pathologies on the neurodevelopment of the offspring at 6 and 18 months of life.


This was a prospective case-control study of 331 mother- and child pairs from Granada, Spain. The mothers were included during pregnancy into four groups according to their pre-gestational body mass index and their gestational diabetes status; overweight (n:56), obese (n:64), gestational diabetic (n:79), and healthy normal weight controls (n:132). At 6 months and 18 months we assessed the children with the Bayley III scales of neurodevelopment.


At 6 months (n=215), we found significant group differences in cognition composite language, and expressive language. Post hoc test revealed unexpectedly higher scores in the obese group compared to the normal weight group and a similar trend in overweight and diabetic group. The effects on language remained significant after adjusting for confounders with an adjusted odds ratio for a value above median in composite language score of 3.3 (95% CI: 1.1, 10.0; p=0.035) for children of obese mothers. At 18 month (n=197), the offspring born to obese mothers had lost five points in language composite scores and the previous differences in language and cognition was replaced by a suggestive trend of lower gross motor scores in the overweight, obese, and diabetic groups.


Infants of obese mothers had a temporary accelerated development of cognition and language, followed by a rapid deceleration until 18 months of age, particularly of language scores. This novel observation prompts further confirmative studies to explore possible placental and neurodevelopmental mechanisms involved.


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