Previous studies have found greater adiposity and cardiovascular risk in first born children. The causality of this association is not clear. Examining the association in diverse populations may lead to improved insight.
We examine the association between birth order and body mass index (BMI), systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP/DBP) in the 2004 Pelotas cohort from southern Brazil and the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) from Bristol, south west England, restricting analysis to families with two children in order to remove confounding by family size.
No consistent differences in BMI, SBP or DBP were observed comparing first and second born children. Within the Pelotas 2004 cohort, first born females were thinner, with lower SBP and DBP; e.g. mean difference in SBP comparing first with second born was -0.979 (95% confidence interval -2.901 to 0.943). In ALSPAC, first born females had higher BMI, SBP and DBP. In both cohorts, associations tended to be in the opposite direction in males, although no statistical evidence for gender interactions was found.
The findings do not support an association between birth order and BMI or blood pressure. Differences to previous studies may be explained by differences in populations and/or confounding by family size in previous studies.
ALSPAC; birth order; blood pressure; body mass index; cardiovascular; obesity; Pelotas; siblings
Childhood intelligence is an important determinant of health outcomes in adulthood. The first years of life are critical to child development. This study aimed to identify early life (perinatal and during the first year of life) predictors of low cognitive performance at age 6.
A birth cohort study started in the city of Pelotas, southern Brazil, in 2004 and children were followed from birth to age six. Information on a broad set of biological and social predictors was collected. Cognitive ability—the study outcome—was assessed using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC). IQ scores were standardized into z-scores and low IQ defined as z < −1. We applied bootstrapping methods for internal validation with a multivariate logistic regression model and carried out external validation using a second study from the 1993 Pelotas Birth Cohort.
The proportion of children with IQ z-score < −1 was 16.9% (95% CI 15.6–18.1). The final model included the following early life variables: child’s gender; parents’ skin color; number of siblings; father’s and mother’s employment status; household income; maternal education; number of persons per room; duration of breastfeeding; height-for-age deficit; head circumference-for-age deficit; parental smoking during pregnancy; and maternal perception of the child’s health status. The area under the ROC curve for our final model was 0.8, with sensitivity of 72% and specificity of 74%. Similar results were found when testing external validation by using data from the 1993 Pelotas Birth Cohort.
The study results suggest that a child’s and her/his family’s social conditions are strong predictors of cognitive ability in childhood. Interventions for promoting a healthy early childhood development are needed targeting children at risk of low IQ so that they can reach their full cognitive potential.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12887-014-0308-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Child development; Birth cohort; Intelligence; Cognition; Social determinants of health; Brazil
Maternal physical activity during pregnancy could alter offspring's IQ and neurodevelopment in childhood.
Children belonging to a birth cohort were followed at 3, 12, 24 and 48 months of age. Physical activity during pregnancy was assessed retrospectively at birth. Neurodevelopment was evaluated by Battelle's Development Inventory (12, 24 and 48 months) and IQ by the Weschler's Intelligence Scale (48 months). Neurodevelopment was based on Battelles' (90th percentile) and also analyzed as a continuous outcome. IQ was analyzed as a continuous outcome. Potential confounders were: family income, mother's age, schooling, skin color, number of previous births and smoking; and newborns': preterm birth, sex and low birth weight.
From birth to 48 months, sample size decreased from 4231 to 3792. Crude analysis showed that IQ at 48 months was slightly higher (5 points) among children from active women. The Battelle's score at 12 and 24 months was higher among offspring from active mothers. After controlling for confounders, physical activity during pregnancy was positively associated to the Battelle's Inventory at 12 months IQ, however, at 48 months no association was observed.
Physical activity during pregnancy does not seem to impair children's neurodevelopment and children from active mothers presented better performance at 12 months.
Standardized questionnaires designed for the identification of depression are useful for monitoring individual as well as population mental health. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) has originally been developed to assist primary care health professionals to detect postnatal depression, but several authors recommend its use outside of the postpartum period. In Brazil, the use of the EPDS for screening depression outside the postpartum period and among non-selected populations has not been validated. The present study aimed to assess the validity of the EPDS as a screening instrument for major depressive episode (MDE) among adults from the general population.
This is a validation study that used a population-based sampling technique to select the participants. The study was conducted in the city of Pelotas, Brazil. Households were randomly selected by two stage conglomerates with probability proportional to size. EPDS was administered to 447 adults (≥20 years). Approximately 17 days later, participants were reinterviewed by psychiatrics and psychologists using a structured diagnostic interview (Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview, MINI). We calculated the sensitivity and specificity of each cutoff point of EPDS, and values were plotted as a receiver operator characteristic curve.
The best cutoff point for screening depression was ≥8, with 80.0% (64.4 - 90.9%) sensitivity and 87.0% (83.3 - 90.1%) specificity. Among women the best cutoff point was ≥8 too with values of sensitivity and specificity of 84.4% (67.2 – 94.7%) and 81.3% (75.5 – 86.1%), respectively. Among men, the best cutoff point was ≥7 (75% sensitivity and 89% specificity).
The EPDS was shown to be suitable for screening MDE among adults in the community.
Major depressive episode; Validity of tests; Sensitivity and specificity; Adult; EPDS test; Depression
Maternal mood symptoms have been associated with psychiatric disorders in children. This study aimed to assess critical periods when maternal symptoms would be more deleterious.
Cohort of 4231 births followed-up in the city of Pelotas, Brazil. Mood symptoms during pregnancy were self-reported by mothers at perinatal interview; and at 3-months postpartum, mothers answered the Self-Reporting Questionnaire. Psychiatric disorders in 6-year-old children were evaluated through the Development and Well-Being Assessment instrument. Odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated by logistic regression.
Prevalence of mood symptoms in pregnancy was 24.6% (23.2–26.0%) and at three months postpartum 22.5% (21.1–23.9%). Prevalence of mental disorders in children was 13.3% (12.2–14.4%). After adjustment for confounders children of mothers with mood symptoms during pregnancy were 82% more likely of presenting psychiatric disorders than children of mothers that did not (1.82; 1.48–2.25); and the chance of having mental disorders among children whose mothers had positive SRQ-20 at three months postpartum was 87% greater than the observed among children whose mothers had it negative (1.87; 1.50–2.33).
Because maternal anxiety/depression may interfere with interpretation of the child behavior, child׳s mental health being obtained by interviewing the mother is a limitation of this study. Lack of information on other risk factors may have lead to residual confounding on the effect of maternal mood symptoms at three months postpartum.
Children of mothers presenting mood symptoms during pregnancy and in the first months postpartum are more likely to present psychiatric disorders at 6 years of age.
DAWBA, Development and Well- Being Assessment; EPDS, Edinburgh Post-natal Depression Scale; LBW, low birth weight; LMP, last menstrual period; OR, odds ratio; MW, minimum wages; SRQ-20, self-reporting questionnaire; 95% CI, 95% confidence interval; Mood disorders; Self-reporting questionnaire; Development and Well-Being Assessment; Cohort study; Preschool children
This is an update of the 2004 Pelotas Birth Cohort profile, originally published in 2011. In view of the high prevalence of overweight and mental health problems among Brazilian children, together with the availability of state-of-the-art equipment to assess body composition and diagnostic tests for mental health in childhood, the main outcomes measured in the fifth follow-up (mean age 6.8 years) included child body composition, mental health and cognitive ability. A total of 3722 (90.2%) of the original mothers/carers were interviewed and their children examined in a clinic where they underwent whole-body dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), air displacement plethysmography and a 3D photonic scan. Saliva samples for DNA were obtained. Clinical psychologists applied the Development and Well-Being Assessment questionnaire and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children to all children. Results are being compared with those of the two earlier cohorts to assess the health effects of economic growth and full implementation of public policies aimed at reducing social inequalities in the past 30 years. For further information visit the programme website at [http://www.epidemio-ufpel.org.br/site/content/coorte_2004/questionarios.php]. Applications to use the data should be made by contacting 2004 cohort researchers and filling in the application form available at [http://www.epidemio-ufpel.org.br/site/content/estudos/formularios.php].
Most studies published on the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in children were conducted in high-income countries despite the fact that nearly 90 % of the world’s population aged under 18 live in low- and middle-income countries. The study aimed to assess the prevalence of psychiatric disorders among children of 6 years of age, to examine the distribution of psychiatric disorders by gender and socioeconomic status and to evaluate the occurrence of psychiatric comorbidities.
The 2004 Pelotas Birth Cohort originally comprised 4,231 live births from Pelotas, southern Brazil. A total of 3,585 (84.7 % of 4,231 births) children aged 6 years were assessed using the Development and Well-Being Assessment (DAWBA).
Nearly 13 % of the children presented a psychiatric diagnosis according to DSM-IV, being more prevalent among males than females (14.7 and 11.7 %, respectively, p = 0.009). Anxiety disorders were the most prevalent of all disorders (8.8 %) and specific phobias (5.4 %) and separation anxiety disorder (3.2 %) were the most common subtypes. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (2.6 %), oppositional defiant disorder/conduct disorder (2.6 %), and depression (1.3 %) were also diagnosed. More than one psychiatric disorder was presented by 17 % of children. Socioeconomically disadvantaged children had a higher prevalence of psychiatric disorders.
Our findings underline the early onset of psychiatric disorders among children and the frequent occurrence of psychiatric comorbidity. Early prevention is needed in the field of mental health in Brazil and should start during infancy.
Prevalence; Cohort studies; Mental disorders; Mental health; Child
To describe the patterns of deliveries in a birth cohort and to compare vaginal and cesarean section deliveries.
All children born to mothers from the urban area of Pelotas, Brazil, in 2004, were recruited for a birth cohort study. Mothers were contacted and interviewed during their hospital stay when extensive information on the gestation, the birth and the newborn, along with maternal health history and family characteristics was collected. Maternal characteristics and childbirth care financing – either private or public healthcare (SUS) patients - were the main factors investigated along with a description of C-sections distribution according to day of the week and delivery time. Standard descriptive techniques, χ2 tests for comparing proportions and Poisson regression to explore the independent effect of C-section predictors were the methods used.
The overall C-section rate was 45%, 36% among SUS and 81% among private patients, where 35% of C-sections were reported elective. C-sections were more frequent on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, reducing by about a third on Sundays, while normal deliveries had a uniform distribution along the week. Delivery time for C-sections was markedly different among public and private patients. Maternal schooling was positively associated with C-section among SUS patients, but not among private patients.
C-sections were almost universal among the wealthier mothers, and strongly related to maternal education among SUS patients. The patterns we describe are compatible with the idea that C-sections are largely done to suit the doctor’s schedule. Drastic action is called for to change the current situation.
Parturition; Cesarean Section, trends; Perinatal Care; Obstetrics; Socioeconomic Factors; Cohort Studies.
To explore associations of maternal prenatal smoking and child psychological problems and determine the role of causal intrauterine mechanisms.
Patients and Methods
Maternal smoking and child psychological problems were explored in 2 birth cohorts in Pelotas, Brazil (n=509; random sub-sample) and Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), Britain (n=6,735). Four approaches for exploring causal mechanisms were applied: 1) cross-population comparisons between a high-income and a middle-income country, 2) multiple adjustment for socioeconomic and parental psychological factors, 3) maternal-paternal comparisons as a test of putative intrauterine effects; and 4) search for specific effects on different behavioural subscales.
Socioeconomic patterning of maternal prenatal smoking was stronger in the ALSPAC compared with the Pelotas cohort. Despite this difference in a key confounder, consistency in observed associations was found between these cohorts. In both cohorts, unadjusted, maternal smoking was associated with greater offspring hyperactivity, conduct/externalizing problems, and peer problems, but not with emotional/internalizing problems. After adjusting for confounders and paternal prenatal smoking, only the association with conduct/externalizing problems persisted in both cohorts (conduct problems in the ALSPAC cohort, odds ratio OR: 1.24 [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.07–1.46], p= .005; externalizing problems in the Pelotas cohort, OR:1.82 [95% CI:1.19–2.78], p=.005; ORs reflect ordinal ORs of maternal smokers having offspring with higher scores). Maternal smoking associations were stronger than paternal smoking associations, although statistical evidence for differences was weak in 1 cohort.
Evidence from 4 approaches suggests a possible intrauterine effect of maternal smoking on offspring conduct/externalizing problems.
ALSPAC; Pelotas; prenatal smoking; child; behavioral problems; developmental origins
To identify prognostic factors associated with recurrence of low birthweight (LBW) in successive gestations, a study was carried out with a subsample of mothers enrolled in the 2004 Pelotas Birth Cohort.
Data were collected by hospital-based interviews. Newborns were weighed and measured. Gestational age was defined according to the date of last menstrual period, ultra-sound scan before the 20th week of pregnancy or the Dubowitz method. Mothers who reported at least one LBW newborn in the two previous gestations were included. Prevalence ratios (PR) and 95% confidence intervals were estimated from Poisson Regression. All estimates were adjusted for parity.
A total of 4558 births were identified in 2004, and 565 met inclusion criteria, out of which 86 (15.2%) repeated LBW in 2004. Among mothers with two LBW babies before 2004, 47.9% presented LBW recurrence. Belonging to the highest socio-economic stratum (PR 0.89; 0.01-0.46) and gaining ≥ 10 kg during pregnancy (PR 0.09; 0.01-0.77) were protective against LBW recurrence. Higher risk of LBW recurrence was observed among mothers with higher parity (≥3 previous deliveries; PR=1.93; 95% CI 1.23-3.02); who had given birth to a previous preterm baby (PR=4.01; 2.27-7.10); who delivered a female newborn in current gestation (PR=2.61; 1.45-4.69); and that had not received adequate antenatal care (PR=2.57; 1-37-4.81).
Improved quality of antenatal care and adequate maternal weight gain during pregnancy may be feasible strategies to prevent LBW repetition in successive pregnancies.
Prognostic factors; Low birthweight recurrence; Low birthweight; Preterm; Antenatal care
Background. To estimate the exposure to medicines with unknown fetal risk during pregnancy and to analyze the maternal characteristics associated with it. Methods. A questionnaire was administered to 4,189 mothers of children belonging to the 2004 Pelotas (Brazil) birth cohort study about use of any medicine during gestation. We evaluated the associations between use of medicines with unknown fetal risk and the independent variables through logistic regression models. Unknown fetal risk was defined as medicines in which studies in animals have revealed adverse effects on the fetus, and no controlled studies in women, or studies in women and animals, are available. Results. Out of the 4,189 women, 52.5% used at least one medicine from unknown fetal risk. Use of these medicines was associated with white skin color, high schooling, high income, six or more antenatal care consultations, hospital admission during pregnancy, and morbidity during gestation. Conclusion. The use of unknown fetal risk medicines is high, suggesting that their use must be addressed with caution with the aim of restricting their use to cases in which the benefits are greater than the potential risks.
Breastfeeding is fundamental for child health. Changes in the duration of breastfeeding are compared for three population-based cohorts of children born in 1982, 1993 and 2004 in the city of Pelotas, Southern Brazil. Samples of the 1982 and 1993 children and all of the children from the 2004 cohort study were sought at home when they were aged around 12 months. Both the duration of breastfeeding and the stage at which different kind of foods were regularly introduced were investigated. The median duration of breastfeeding increased from 3.1 to 6.8 months in this period. Exclusive breastfeeding at three months was practically non-existent in 1982 and had reached one third of infants by 2004. The increase was faster after 1993, suggesting an important impact made by promotion activities. Up to about 6-9 months, breastfeeding was more prevalent in high-income families, but after this age it became more common among the poor. Low birth weight babies were breastfeed for shorter durations. The duration of breastfeeding is still far short of international recommendations, justifying further campaigns. Special attention should be given to low birth weight babies and those from low-income families.
Breast Feeding; Child Welfare; Cohort Studies
To evaluate the effect of (1) maternal smoking during pregnancy; and (2) partner smoking on offspring's height in infancy, childhood, and adolescence.
All hospital live births from 1993 (5,249) were identified, and these infants were followed up at several ages. Height for age, expressed as z-scores using the World Health Organization growth curves, was measured at all follow-up visits. Maternal smoking during pregnancy was collected retrospectively at birth and analyzed as number of cigarettes/day smoked categorized in four categories (never smoked, <10, 10–19, and ≥20 cigarettes/day). Partner smoking was analyzed as a dichotomous variable (No/Yes). Unadjusted and adjusted analyses were performed by use of linear regression.
The prevalence of self-reported maternal smoking during pregnancy was 33.5%. In the crude analysis, the number of cigarettes/day smoked by the mother during pregnancy negatively affected offspring's height in infancy, childhood, and adolescence. After adjustment for confounders and mediators, this association remained statistically significant, although the magnitude of the regression coefficients was reduced. Paternal smoking was not associated with offspring's height in the adjusted analyses.
In addition to the well-known harmful effects of smoking, maternal smoking during pregnancy negatively affects offspring's height. Public health policies aimed at continuing to reduce the prevalence of maternal smoking during pregnancy must be encouraged.
Smoking; Height by age; Body height; Growth; Child; Adolescent; Cohort studies
We assessed anthropometric status, breastfeeding duration, morbidity, and mortality outcomes during the first four years of life according to gestational age, in three population-based birth cohorts in the city of Pelotas, Southern Brazil.
Total breastfeeding duration, neonatal mortality, infant morbidity and mortality, and anthropometric measures taken at 12 and 48 months were evaluated in children of different gestational ages born in 1982, 1993 and 2004 in Southern Brazil.
Babies born <34 weeks of gestation and those born between 34–36 weeks presented increased morbidity and mortality, were breastfed for shorter periods, and were more likely to be undernourished at 12 months of life, in comparison with the 39–41 weeks group. Children born with 37 weeks were more than twice as likely to die in the first year of life, and were also at increased risk of hospitalization and underweight at 12 months of life. Post-term infants presented an increased risk of neonatal mortality.
The increased risks of morbidity and mortality among preterm (<37 weeks of gestation) and post-term (>41 weeks) are well known. In our population babies born at 37 also present increased risk. As the proportion of preterm and early term babies has increased markedly in recent years, this is a cause for great concern.
Gestational age; Preterm births; Early term births; Post-term births; Infant mortality; Neonatal mortality
Socioeconomic inequalities in child nutrition may change rapidly over time, particularly in populations undergoing the nutrition transition. Yet, the few available studies are repeated cross-sectional surveys. By studying three prospective birth cohorts in the same city over a period of more than two decades, we describe secular trends in overweight and stunting at different ages, according to socioeconomic position.
Population-based birth cohort studies were launched in the city of Pelotas (Brazil) in 1982, 1993 and 2004, with follow-up visits at twelve, 24 and 48 months. Children were weighed and measured at every visit. Z-scores of length/height-for-age and body mass index-for-age were calculated using the WHO Child Growth Standards. The slope and relative indices of inequality, based on family income quintiles, were estimated for each follow-up visit.
Between the 1982 and 2004 cohorts, stunting among four-year-olds declined (from 10.9% to 3.6%), while overweight increased (from 7.6% to 12.3%). In every visit, stunting prevalence was inversely related to income. Both absolute and relative inequalities declined over time; among four-year-olds stunting dropped from 26.0% in the 1982 cohort to 6.7% in the 2004 cohort in the poorest group, while in the richest group stunting prevalence dropped from 2.7% in 1982 to 1.1% in the 2004 cohort study. The secular trend towards increased overweight was evident for four-year-olds, in almost all socioeconomic groups, but not among one and two-year-olds. Among four-year old children, overweight prevalence increased in all income quintiles, by 130% in the middle-income group, 64% in the poorest and 41% in the richest group.
The decline in stunting is remarkable, but the increase in overweight among four-year olds – particularly among the poorest and the middle-income groups– requires concerted efforts to prevent the long term consequences of child overweight.
Socioeconomic factors; Health status disparities; Cohort studies; Child nutrition; Overweight; Stunting
Coffee and other caffeinated beverages are commonly consumed in pregnancy. In adults, caffeine may interfere with sleep onset and have a dose-response effect similar to those seen during insomnia. In infancy, nighttime waking is a common event. With this study, we aimed to investigate if maternal caffeine consumption during pregnancy and lactation leads to frequent nocturnal awakening among infants at 3 months of age.
All children born in the city of Pelotas, Brazil, during 2004 were enrolled on a cohort study. Mothers were interviewed at delivery and after 3 months to obtain information on caffeine drinking consumption, sociodemographic, reproductive, and behavioral characteristics. Infant sleeping pattern in the previous 15 days was obtained from a subsample. Night waking was defined as an episode of infant arousal that woke the parents during nighttime. Multivariable analysis was performed by using Poisson regression.
The subsample included 885 of the 4231 infants born in 2004. All but 1 mother consumed caffeine in pregnancy. Nearly 20% were heavy consumers (≥300 mg/day) during pregnancy and 14.3% at 3 months postpartum. Prevalence of frequent nighttime awakeners (>3 episodes per night) was 13.8% (95% confidence interval: 11.5%–16.0%). The highest prevalence ratio was observed among breastfed infants from mothers consuming ≥300 mg/day during the whole pregnancy and in the postpartum period (1.65; 95% confidence interval: 0.86–3.17) but at a nonsignificant level.
Caffeine consumption during pregnancy and by nursing mothers seems not to have consequences on sleep of infants at the age of 3 months.
sleep; sleep duration; infant sleeping; night waking; infant; caffeine; coffee
To identify food intake profiles of children during their first four years of life and assess its variations according to sociodemographic and behavioral characteristics.
The Pelotas Birth Cohort Study (Brazil) recruited 4,231 liveborns, who were followed-up at ages 3, 12, 24 and 48 months. Food consumption data of children aged 12, 24 and 48 months was collected using a list of foods consumed during a 24-hour period prior to the interview. The food profiles were identified with the use of principal component analysis (PCA) for each age studied.
Five components were identified at each age, four of them similar in all time points, namely: beverages, milks, staple, and snacks. A meat & vegetables component was identified at 12 and 24 months and a treats component at 48 months. The greatest nutritional differences were found among children from different socioeconomic levels. With regard to the milks component, higher breast milk intake compared to cow's milk was seen among poorer children (12- and 24-month old) and higher milk and chocolate powdered milk drink consumption was seen among more affluent children aged 48 months. Poorer children of less educated mothers showed higher adherence to the treats component (48 months). Regarding to the snack component, poorer children consumed more coffee, bread/cookies while more affluent children consumed proportionately more fruits, yogurt and soft drinks. Child care outside of the home was also a factor influencing food profiles more aligned with a healthier diet.
The study results showed that very early in life children show food profiles that are strongly associated with social (maternal schooling, socioeconomic position and child care) and behavioral characteristics (breast-feeding duration, bottle-feeding and pacifier use).
Much has been written about the measurement of socio-economic position (SEP) in high-income countries (HIC). Less has been written for an epidemiology, health systems and public health audience about the measurement of SEP in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). The social stratification processes in many LMIC—and therefore the appropriate measurement tools—differ considerably from those in HIC. Many measures of SEP have been utilized in epidemiological studies; the aspects of SEP captured by these measures and the pathways through which they may affect health are likely to be slightly different but overlapping. No single measure of SEP will be ideal for all studies and contexts; the strengths and limitations of a given indicator are likely to vary according to the specific research question. Understanding the general properties of different indicators, however, is essential for all those involved in the design or interpretation of epidemiological studies. In this article, we describe the measures of SEP used in LMIC. We concentrate on measures of individual or household-level SEP rather than area-based or ecological measures such as gross domestic product. We describe each indicator in terms of its theoretical basis, interpretation, measurement, strengths and limitations. We also provide brief comparisons between LMIC and HIC for each measure.
Socio-economic factors; social class; poverty; measurement; methods; developing countries
Background We assessed the influence of season of birth on duration of breastfeeding and other feeding patterns in three population-based birth cohort studies in the city of Pelotas, Southern Brazil.
Methods In 1982, 1993 and 2004, all hospital-born children in the city were enrolled in three cohort studies (n = 5914, 5249 and 4287, respectively). Children and their mothers were periodically visited in the first 2 years of life, to collect information on the duration of breastfeeding and the ages at which different types of foods were introduced on a regular basis. Two independent variables were studied: month of birth and mean environmental temperature in the first month of life. Survival analyses and chi-squared tests were used to evaluate the associations. Temperature-based slope indices of inequality were also calculated.
Results Duration of breastfeeding was lower among children born from April to June (months preceding winter) and spending their first month of life in colder temperatures. The influence of season of birth on breastfeeding patterns and the introduction of cow's milk differed according to maternal education, with the strongest effects among children belonging to less educated mothers. Early introduction of fruits (1982 and 1993 cohorts) and vegetables (1982 cohort) were also associated with lower environmental temperature in the first month of life, but not with trimester of birth.
Conclusion Colder temperatures adversely affect duration of breastfeeding and feeding patterns in infancy, especially among the poorest. This finding should be considered in breastfeeding promotion programmes.
Breastfeeding; climate; cohort studies; temperature; supplementary feeding
Background Maternal smoking during pregnancy is associated with reduced offspring birth length and has been postulated as a risk factor for obesity. Causality for obesity is not established. Causality is well-supported for birth length, but evidence on persistence of height deficits is inconsistent.
Methods We examined the association between maternal smoking during pregnancy and trajectories of offspring height (0–10 years, N = 9424), ponderal index (PI) (0–2 years, N = 9321) and body mass index (BMI) (2–10 years, N = 8887) in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. To strengthen inference, measured confounders were controlled for, maternal and partner smoking associations were compared, dose–response and associations with post-natal smoking were examined.
Results Maternal smoking during pregnancy was associated with shorter birth length, faster height growth in infancy and slower growth in later childhood. By 10 years, daughters of women who smoke during pregnancy are on average 1.11 cm (SE = 0.27) shorter after adjustment for confounders and partner smoking; the difference is 0.22 cm (SE = 0.22) for partner's smoking. Maternal smoking was associated with lower PI at birth, faster PI increase in infancy, but not with BMI changes 2–10 years. Associations were stronger for maternal than partner smoking for PI at birth and PI changes in infancy, but not for BMI changes after 2 years. A similar dose–response in both maternal and partner smoking was seen for BMI change 2–10 years.
Conclusion Maternal smoking during pregnancy has an intrauterine effect on birth length, and possibly on adiposity at birth and changes in height and adiposity in infancy. We do not find evidence of a specific intrauterine effect on height or adiposity changes after the age of 2 years.
Smoking; growth; obesity; pregnancy; child; ALSPAC
Background: The number of cesarean sections (CSs) is increasing in many countries, and there are concerns about their short- and long-term effects. A recent Brazilian study showed a 58% higher prevalence of obesity in young adults born by CS than in young adults born vaginally. Because CS-born individuals do not make contact at birth with maternal vaginal and intestinal bacteria, the authors proposed that this could lead to long-term changes in the gut microbiota that could contribute to obesity.
Objective: We assessed whether CS births lead to increased obesity during childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood in 3 birth cohorts.
Design: We analyzed data from 3 birth-cohort studies started in 1982, 1993, and 2004 in Southern Brazil. Subjects were assessed at different ages until 23 y of age. Poisson regression was used to estimate prevalence ratios with adjustment for ≤15 socioeconomic, demographic, maternal, anthropometric, and behavioral covariates.
Results: In the crude analyses, subjects born by CS had ∼50% higher prevalence of obesity at 4, 11, and 15 y of age but not at 23 y of age. After adjustment for covariates, prevalence ratios were markedly reduced and no longer significant for men or women. The only exception was an association for 4-y-old boys in the 1993 cohort, which was not observed in the other 2 cohorts or for girls.
Conclusion: In these 3 birth cohorts, CSs do not seem to lead to an important increased risk of obesity during childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood.
The role of young maternal age as a determinant of adverse child health outcomes is controversial, with existing studies providing conflicting results. This work assessed the association between adolescent childbearing and early offspring mortality in three birth cohort studies from the city of Pelotas in Southern Brazil.
All hospital births from 1982 (6,011), 1993 (5,304), and 2004 (4,287) were identified and these infants were followed up. Deaths were monitored through vital registration, visits to hospitals and cemeteries. The analyses were restricted to women younger than 30 years who delivered singletons (72%, 70% and 67% of the original cohorts, respectively). Maternal age was categorized into three groups (< 16, 16-19, and 20-29 years). Further analyses compared mothers aged 12-19 and 20-29 years. The outcome variables included fetal, perinatal, neonatal, postneonatal and infant mortality. Crude and adjusted odds ratios (ORs) were estimated with logistic regression models.
There were no interactions between maternal age and cohort year. After adjustment for confounding, pooled ORs for mothers aged 12-19 years were 0.6 (95% CI = 0.4; 1.0) for fetal death, 0.9 (0.6; 1.3) for perinatal death, 1.0 (0.7; 1.6) for early neonatal death, 1.6 (0.7; 3.4) for late neonatal death, 1.8 (1.1; 2.9) for postneonatal death, and 1.6 (1.2; 2.1) for infant death, when compared to mothers aged 20-29 years. Further adjustment for mediating variables led to the disappearance of the excess of postneonatal mortality. The number of mothers younger than 16 years was not sufficient for most analyses.
The slightly increased odds of postneonatal mortality among children of adolescent mothers suggest that social and environmental factors may be more important than maternal biologic immaturity.
pregnancy in adolescence; infant mortality; neonatal mortality; perinatal mortality; fetal mortality; cohort studies
To explore the effects of maternal smoking during pregnancy on offspring growth using three approaches: (1) multiple adjustments for socioeconomic and parental factors, (2) maternal–paternal comparisons as a test of putative intrauterine effects and (3) comparisons between two birth cohort studies.
Population-based birth cohort studies were carried out in Pelotas, Brazil, in 1993 and 2004. Cohort members were followed up at 3, 12, 24 and 48 months. Multiple linear regression analysis was used to examine the relationships between maternal and paternal prenatal smoking and offspring anthropometric indices. In the 2004 cohort, the association of smoking with trunk length, leg length and leg-to-sitting-height ratio at 48 months was also explored.
Maternal smoking during pregnancy was associated with reduced z scores of length/height-for-age at each follow-up in both cohorts and reduced leg length at 48 months in the 2004 cohort. Children older than 3 months born to smoking women showed a higher body mass index-for-age z score than children of non-smoking women.
The results of this study strongly support the hypothesis that maternal smoking during pregnancy impairs linear growth and promotes overweight in childhood.
Background A novel approach is explored for improving causal inference in observational studies by comparing cohorts from high-income with low- or middle-income countries (LMIC), where confounding structures differ. This is applied to assessing causal effects of breastfeeding on child blood pressure (BP), body mass index (BMI) and intelligence quotient (IQ).
Methods Standardized approaches for assessing the confounding structure of breastfeeding by socio-economic position were applied to the British Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) (N ≃ 5000) and Brazilian Pelotas 1993 cohorts (N ≃ 1000). This was used to improve causal inference regarding associations of breastfeeding with child BP, BMI and IQ. Analyses were extended to include results from a meta-analysis of five LMICs (N ≃ 10 000) and compared with a randomized trial of breastfeeding promotion.
Findings Although higher socio-economic position was strongly associated with breastfeeding in ALSPAC, there was little such patterning in Pelotas. In ALSPAC, breastfeeding was associated with lower BP, lower BMI and higher IQ, adjusted for confounders, but in the directions expected if due to socioeconomic patterning. In contrast, in Pelotas, breastfeeding was not strongly associated with BP or BMI but was associated with higher IQ. Differences in associations observed between ALSPAC and the LMIC meta-analysis were in line with those observed between ALSPAC and Pelotas, but with robust evidence of heterogeneity detected between ALSPAC and the LMIC meta-analysis associations. Trial data supported the conclusions inferred by the cross-cohort comparisons, which provided evidence for causal effects on IQ but not for BP or BMI.
Conclusion While reported associations of breastfeeding with child BP and BMI are likely to reflect residual confounding, breastfeeding may have causal effects on IQ. Comparing associations between populations with differing confounding structures can be used to improve causal inference in observational studies.
ALSPAC; breastfeeding; causation; cognition; cohort; Pelotas