THURSDAY, Feb. 17, 2022 (HealthDay News) — High weight gain during pregnancy may be linked to daughters’ subsequent body composition, according to a study published online Feb. 9 in Obesity.

Elizabeth M. Widen, Ph.D., R.D., from the University of Texas at Austin, and colleagues developed a mother-child dyad trajectory model of weight and body composition spanning conception to adolescence to understand how early life exposures shape childhood body composition. The model included 337 African American (49.3 percent) and Dominican (50.7 percent) pregnant mothers who were enrolled during pregnancy, with follow-up until their children reached 14 years.

The researchers identified four prenatal and child body composition trajectory patterns. Sex-specific patterns were observed for the joint gestational weight gain (GWG)-postnatal body composition trajectories, with distinct patterns seen among girls but not boys. Specifically, girls of mothers with high GWG across gestation had the highest body mass index z score, waist circumference, and percentage body fat trajectories from ages 5 to 14 years. Similar growth patterns were not seen in boys in this high GWG group.

“It is possible that these findings are just the start of research that can help us further understand risk factors for childhood obesity and may help us develop more individualized weight gain guidelines that support pregnant people,” Widen said in a statement.

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