Gestational Weight Gain and Offspring Cognition
University of Kansas
Dietetics & Nutrition
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ABSTRACT Background: Two thirds of US women are not gaining the recommended weight during pregnancy (1) and 50% of women giving birth in the US are either overweight or obese (2). While little is known about the effect of gestational weight gain (GWG) on offspring cognition, previous research has shown that BMIs 24.9 may lead to impaired cognitive outcomes. Objective: To determine whether below or above recommended GWG has negative effects on cognition of the offspring and to determine whether pre-pregnancy BMI status affects offspring cognitive outcomes. Design: Pre-pregnant weight and GWG data were collected from a subset of women (n=221) enrolled in a phase III clinical trial from 2006-2010. The offspring of these women underwent habituation tests at ages 4, 6, and 9 months. We used both self-reported pre-pregnancy weight and first clinic visit weight to determine GWG (inadequate, appropriate, or excessive) and weight status (normal or overweight/obese) categories. Underweight status was removed from data analysis due to few subjects in that category. All statistical analyses used mixed models. Results: When self-reported pre-pregnancy weight was used to calculate GWG, several statistically significant three way interactions were found. However, these interactions lacked validity due to small sample sizes. There was one statistically significant relationship between GWG category and percentage of looking in sustained attention (SA) (p-value: 0.047). No statistically significant results were found when GWG was calculated based on weight at the first clinic visit. Conclusion: Women who gained weight appropriately during pregnancy had offspring with greater percentage of looking spent in SA. This finding suggests a more sophisticated level of information processing in infants of women who gained appropriately when compared to infants of women who gained inadequately or excessively. No clear associations were found between maternal weight status and offspring cognition in infancy. The effect of pre-pregnancy weight status may not manifest itself during infancy or be detectable on tests of habituation in infancy. If further research conducted, it might be beneficial to use a later measure of cognition.
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