Background: High maternal dietary intakes in pregnancy may lead to increased fetal growth and program neuroendocrine pathways that result in greater appetite, energy intake, and adiposity in offspring later in life. Few prospective dietary studies have explored this relation.
Objective: The objective was to assess associations of maternal dietary intake in pregnancy and maternal and paternal dietary intake postnatally with child dietary intake and adiposity.
Design: Dietary intakes of energy, protein, total fat, and carbohydrate were assessed prospectively in mothers during pregnancy, in mothers and their partners at 47 mo postnatally, and in children at 10 y (n = 5717 mother-child pairs prenatally, 5593 mother-child pairs postnatally, and 3009 father-child pairs). Child body composition was assessed at 9 and 11 y (n = 5725).
Results: Maternal dietary intakes of protein, fat (when adjusted for energy intake), and carbohydrate in pregnancy were positively associated with child dietary intakes of the same nutrients, and these associations were greater than those observed for paternal dietary intake, which was not strongly associated with offspring diet. Associations of maternal prenatal-offspring intakes were stronger than those of maternal postnatal-offspring intakes for protein and fat. Greater child energy and macronutrient intakes were only associated with greater adiposity in children when adjusted for potential energy underreporting. Maternal diet during pregnancy was not associated with offspring adiposity or lean mass.
Conclusion: The stronger prenatal maternal associations with child dietary intake, particularly protein and fat, compared with both paternal intake associations and maternal postnatal intake associations provide some evidence for in utero programming of offspring appetite by maternal intake during pregnancy.