Gestational Weight Gain by Maternal Pre-pregnancy BMI and Childhood Problem Behaviours in School-Age Years: A Pooled Analysis of Two European Birth Cohorts

Elena C Tore*, Evangelia E Antoniou, Renate H M de Groot, Marij Gielen, Roger W L Godschalk, Theano Roumeliotaki, Luc Smits, Taunton R Southwood, Marc E A Spaanderman, Nikos Stratakis, Marina Vafeiadi, Vaia L Chatzi, Maurice P Zeegers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Maternal pre-pregnancy weight is known to affect foetal development. However, it has not yet been clarified if gestational weight gain is associated with childhood behavioural development.

METHODS: We performed a pooled analysis of two prospective birth cohorts to investigate the association between gestational weight gain and childhood problem behaviours, and the effect modification of maternal pre-pregnancy BMI. In total, 378 mother-child pairs from the Maastricht Essential Fatty Acids Birth cohort (MEFAB) and 414 pairs from the Rhea Mother-Child cohort were followed up from early pregnancy to 6-7 years post-partum. At follow up, parents assessed their children's behaviour, measured as total problems, internalizing and externalizing behaviours, with the Child Behaviour Checklist. We computed cohort- and subject-specific gestational weight gain trajectories using mixed-effect linear regression models. Fractional polynomial regressions, stratified by maternal pre-pregnancy BMI status, were then used to examine the association between gestational weight gain and childhood problem behaviours.

RESULTS: In the pre-pregnancy overweight/obese group, greater gestational weight gain was associated with higher problem behaviours. On average, children of women with overweight/obesity who gained 0.5 kg/week scored 25 points higher (on a 0-100 scale) in total problems and internalizing behaviours, and about 18 points higher in externalizing behaviours than children whose mothers gained 0.2 kg/week. Inconsistent results were found in the pre-pregnancy normal weight group.

CONCLUSIONS FOR PRACTICE: Excessive gestational weight gain in women with pre-pregnancy overweight/obesity might increase problem behaviours in school-age children. Particular attention should be granted to avoid excessive weight gain in women with a pre-pregnancy overweight or obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1288-1298
Number of pages11
JournalMaternal and Child Health Journal
Volume24
Issue number10
Early online date17 Jun 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

Keywords

  • Externalizing
  • Gestational weight gain
  • Internalizing
  • Pre-pregnancy BMI
  • Problem behaviours

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