To investigate the association of preconception parental obesity (body mass index [BMI] ≥30 kg/m) with offspring pubertal development.
Among 1377 children from a prospective prebirth cohort in Boston, we examined markers of puberty (age at peak height velocity [PHV], age at menarche, self-reported pubertal development score), and adrenarche (pictograph Tanner pubic hair staging). We used multivariable regression models to examine associations of maternal and paternal obesity with offspring pubertal indices, and applied marginal structural models to estimate the controlled direct effect not mediated by offspring prepubertal BMI.
The prevalence of paternal obesity alone, maternal obesity alone, and biparental obesity were 10.5%, 10.1%, and 5%, respectively. After adjusting for demographic and socioeconomic factors, parental heights and maternal age at menarche, maternal obesity alone (vs neither parent with obesity) was associated with earlier age at PHV (β -0.30 years; 95% CI -0.57, -0.03) and higher early adolescent pubertal score (0.29 units; 0.10, 0.48) in boys, but not with pubertal or adrenarchal outcomes in girls. Paternal obesity alone was not associated with any outcomes in either boys or girls. Biparental obesity was associated with earlier age at PHV in boys and earlier menarche in girls. Using marginal structural models with stabilized inverse probability weighting, maternal obesity alone had significant controlled direct effects on age at PHV (-0.31 years; -0.62, 0.00) and on pubertal score (0.22 units; 0.00, 0.44) in boys, independent of prepubertal BMI.
Maternal, but not paternal, obesity is associated with earlier pubertal development in boys, and such association is independent of prepubertal BMI.