To examine associations of parental socioeconomic position with early-life offspring body mass index (BMI) trajectories in a middle-income country.
Overall, 12,385 Belarusian children born 1996-97 and enrolled in a randomised breastfeeding promotion trial at birth, with 3-14 measurements of BMI from birth to 7 years.
Cohort analysis in which exposures were parental education (common secondary or less; advanced secondary or partial university; completed university) and occupation (manual; non-manual) at birth, and the outcome was BMI z-score trajectories estimated using multilevel linear spline models, controlling for trial arm, location, parental BMI, maternal smoking status and number of older siblings.
Infants born to university-educated mothers were heavier at birth than those born to secondary school-educated mothers [by 0.13 BMI z-score units (95% confidence interval, CI: 0.07, 0.19) for girls and 0.11 (95% CI: 0.05, 0.17) for boys; equivalent for an infant of average birth length to 43 and 38 g, respectively]. Between the ages of 3-7 years children of the most educated mothers had larger BMI increases than children of the least educated mothers. At age 7 years, after controlling for trial arm and location, children of university-educated mothers had higher BMIs than those born to secondary school-educated mothers by 0.11 z-score (95% CI: 0.03, 0.19) among girls and 0.18 (95% CI: 0.1, 0.27) among boys, equivalent to differences in BMI for a child of average height of 0.19 and 0.26 kg/m, respectively. After further controlling for parental BMI, these differences attenuated to 0.08 z-score (95% CI: 0, 0.16) and 0.16 z-score (95% CI: 0.07, 0.24), respectively, but changed very little after additional adjustment for number of older siblings and mother's smoking status. Associations were similar when based on paternal educational attainment and highest household occupation.
In Belarus, consistent with some middle-income countries, higher socioeconomic position was associated with greater BMI trajectories from age 3 onwards.