Maternal pre-pregnancy obesity and timing of puberty in sons and daughters: a population-based cohort study

Nis Brix*, Andreas Ernst, Lea L.B. Lauridsen, Onyebuchi A. Arah, Ellen A. Nohr, Jørn Olsen, Tine Brink Henriksen, Cecilia Høst Ramlau-Hansen

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BACKGROUND: In many countries, an increased prevalence of obesity in pregnancy has coincided with a declining pubertal age. We aimed to explore the potential effect of maternal pre-pregnancy overweight and obesity on timing of puberty in sons and daughters. METHODS: Between 2012 and 2018, 15 819 of 22 439 invited children from the Danish National Birth Cohort, born 2000-03, provided half-yearly information from the age of 11 years on the pubertal milestones: Tanner stages, voice break, first ejaculation, menarche, acne and axillary hair. We estimated adjusted mean monthly differences (with 95% confidence intervals) in age at attaining the pubertal milestones for children exposed to maternal pre-pregnancy obesity [body mass index (BMI) ≥30.0 kg/m2] or overweight (BMI 25.0 to 29.9 kg/m2) with normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2) as reference. In mediation analysis, we explored whether childhood BMI at age 7 years mediated the associations. RESULTS: Maternal pre-pregnancy obesity was associated with earlier age at attaining most pubertal milestones in sons, and pre-pregnancy overweight and obesity were associated with earlier age at attaining all pubertal milestones in daughters. When combining all pubertal milestones, pre-pregnancy obesity [sons: -1.5 (-2.5, -0.4) months; daughters: -3.2 (-4.2, -2.1) months] and overweight [daughters only: -2.6 (-3.3, -1.8) months] were associated with earlier timing of puberty. The associations in sons were completely mediated by higher childhood BMI and partly so in daughters. CONCLUSIONS: Maternal pre-pregnancy obesity appears to lower timing of puberty through childhood obesity in sons and mainly through other mechanisms in daughters.

TidsskriftInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Udgave nummer5
Sider (fra-til)1684-1694
StatusUdgivet - 1. okt. 2019



Brix, N., Ernst, A., Lauridsen, L. L. B., Arah, O. A., Nohr, E. A., Olsen, J., Henriksen, T. B., & Ramlau-Hansen, C. H. (2019). Maternal pre-pregnancy obesity and timing of puberty in sons and daughters: a population-based cohort study. International Journal of Epidemiology, 48(5), 1684-1694.