Maternal and Early Childhood Determinants of Women's Body Size in Midlife: Overall Cohort and Sibling Analyses

Wietske A. Ester, Lauren C. Houghton, L. H. Lumey, Karin B. Michels, Hans W. Hoek, Ying Wei, Ezra S. Susser, Barbara A. Cohn, Mary Beth Terry*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Observational evidence suggests that adult body size has its roots earlier in life, yet few life-course studies have data on siblings with which to control for family-level confounding. Using prospective data from the Early Determinants of Mammographic Density Study (n = 1,108; 1959-2008), we examined the association of maternal prepregnancy body mass index (BMI; weight (kg)/height (m)(2)), gestational weight gain (GWG), birth size, and childhood growth factors with adult BMI in daughters at midlife using quantile, linear, and logistic regression models. We compared overall cohort findings (n = 1,108) with sibling differences (n = 246 sibling sets). Results derived by all 3 regression methods supported positive and independent associations of prepregnancy BMI, GWG, and percentile change in early childhood growth with BMI in daughters at midlife. Sibling analyses demonstrated that higher GWG was independently related to a higher adult BMI in daughters, particularly for the highest 90th quantile of adult BMI (beta = 0.64 (standard error, 0.26) BMI units). Greater increases in weight percentiles between 1 and 4 years of age within siblings were also associated with higher adult BMI in the 75th quantile (beta = 0.06 (standard error, 0.03) kg). Thus, even after consideration of the role of family-level fixed effects, maternal GWG and childhood weight gain are associated with adult body size in midlife.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)385-394
    Number of pages10
    JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 1-Mar-2017


    • body mass index
    • catch-up growth
    • gestational weight gain
    • life course
    • obesity
    • FETAL
    • BIRTH

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