Maternal obesity and offspring cognition: the role of inflammation.

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High pre-pregnancy body mass index (ppBMI) has been linked to neurodevelopmental impairments in childhood. However, very few studies have investigated mechanisms in human cohorts.


Among 1361 mother-child pairs in Project Viva, we examined associations of ppBMI categories with the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test III [PPVT] and Wide Range Assessment of Visual Motor Abilities [WRAVMA] in early childhood (median 3.2y); and with the Kaufman Brief Intelligence test (KBIT) and WRAVMA in mid-childhood (7.7y). We further examined the role of maternal inflammation in these associations using the following measures from the 2nd trimester of pregnancy: plasma C-reactive protein (CRP), dietary inflammatory index (DII), and plasma omega-6 (n-6): n-3 fatty acid ratio.


Children of mothers with prenatal obesity (ppBMI ≥30 kg/m) had WRAVMA scores that were 2.1 points lower (95% CI: -3.9, -0.2) in early childhood than children of normal weight mothers (ppBMI 18.5-<25 kg/m), in a covariate adjusted model. This association was attenuated when we additionally adjusted for maternal CRP (β -1.8 points; 95% CI: -3.8, 0.2) but not for other inflammatory markers. PpBMI was not associated with other cognitive outcomes.


Maternal inflammation may modestly mediate the association between maternal obesity and offspring visual motor abilities.

Pediatr. Res.
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Maternal obesity and offspring cognition: the role of inflammation.
Monthé-Drèze C, Rifas-Shiman SL, Gold DR, Oken E, Sarbattama S