Synchrony between daily feeding-fasting signals and circadian rhythms has been shown to improve metabolic health in animals and adult humans, but the potential programming effect on fetal growth is unknown.
We examined the associations of the maternal night-fasting interval during pregnancy with offspring birth size and adiposity.
This was a cross-sectional study of mother-offspring dyads within the Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) cohort. For 384 mothers aged 30.8 ± 4.8 y (mean ± SD), the night-fasting interval at 26-28 wk of gestation was determined from a 3-d food diary based on the average of the fasting duration at night (1900-0659). Offspring birth weight, length, and head circumference were measured and converted to weight-for-gestational age (GA), length-for-GA, and head circumference-for-GA z scores, respectively, by using local customized percentile charts. The percentage of neonatal total body fat (TBF) was derived by using a validated prediction equation. Multivariable general linear models, stratified by child sex, were performed.
The mean ± SD maternal night-fasting interval was 9.9 ± 1.3 h. In infant girls, each 1-h increase in the maternal night-fastinginterval was associated with a 0.22-SD (95% CI: 0.05-, 0.40-SD; P = 0.013) increase in birth head circumference-for-GA and a 0.84% (95% CI: 0.19%, 1.49%; P = 0.012) increase in TBF at birth, after adjustment for confounders. In infant boys, no associations were observed between the maternal night-fasting interval and birth size or TBF.
An increased maternal night-fasting interval in the late second trimester of pregnancy is associatedwith increased birth head circumference and TBF in girls but not boys. Our findings are in accordance with previous observations that suggest that there are sex-specific responses in fetal brain growth and adiposity, and raise the possibility of the maternal night-fasting interval as an underlying influence. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01174875.