Disciplines

Biological Psychology | Developmental Psychology | Health Psychology

Abstract

Over half of US women of childbearing age are overweight or obese. This is significant because excessive gestational maternal weight may program offspring for greater risk of lifetime obesity. Preliminary research suggests this effect may be moderated by fetal exposure to stress hormones, known to be dysregulated in obese individuals. However, long-term longitudinal research of these constructs is needed.

Therefore, this study used archival data from the NEFS/CPP Studies to examine interactions between maternal pre-pregnancy BMI/gestational weight gain and fetal cortisol exposure as predictors of offspring growth trajectories from birth-7 years and adult BMI via growth curve modeling and ANOVAs.

We predict that offspring born to mothers who were obese prior to conception, or who gained an excessive amount of weight during gestation, will show associations between greater cortisol exposure during the third trimester and both steeper growth trajectories in childhood and greater BMI as adults.

Results would highlight modifiable maternal risk factors to target for education and intervention for women of childbearing age to prevent adverse cardiometabolic outcomes in offspring.

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Interactions between Maternal Prenatal Obesity and Physiological Stress: Predictors of Offspring Adult Obesity

Over half of US women of childbearing age are overweight or obese. This is significant because excessive gestational maternal weight may program offspring for greater risk of lifetime obesity. Preliminary research suggests this effect may be moderated by fetal exposure to stress hormones, known to be dysregulated in obese individuals. However, long-term longitudinal research of these constructs is needed.

Therefore, this study used archival data from the NEFS/CPP Studies to examine interactions between maternal pre-pregnancy BMI/gestational weight gain and fetal cortisol exposure as predictors of offspring growth trajectories from birth-7 years and adult BMI via growth curve modeling and ANOVAs.

We predict that offspring born to mothers who were obese prior to conception, or who gained an excessive amount of weight during gestation, will show associations between greater cortisol exposure during the third trimester and both steeper growth trajectories in childhood and greater BMI as adults.

Results would highlight modifiable maternal risk factors to target for education and intervention for women of childbearing age to prevent adverse cardiometabolic outcomes in offspring.