Background: Glucocorticoids have an important role in early growth and development. Glucocorticoid receptor gene polymorphisms have been identified that contribute to the variability in glucocorticoid sensitivity. We examined whether these glucocorticoid receptor gene polymorphisms are associated with growth in fetal and early postnatal life.Methods: This study was embedded in a population-based prospective cohort study from fetal life onwards. The studied glucocorticoid receptor gene polymorphisms included BclI (rs41423247), TthIIII (rs10052957), GR-9β (rs6198), N363S (rs6195) and R23K (rs6789 and6190). Fetal growth was assessed by ultrasounds in second and third trimester of pregnancy. Anthropometric measurements in early childhood were performed at birth and at the ages of 6, 14 and 24 months postnatally. Analyses focused on weight, length and head circumference. Analyses were based on 2,414 healthy, Caucasian children.Results: Glucocorticoid receptor gene polymorphisms were not associated with fetal weight, birth weight and early postnatal weight. Also, no associations were found with length and head circumference. Neither were these polymorphisms associated with the risks of low birth weight or growth acceleration from birth to 24 months of age.Conclusions: We found in a large population-based cohort no evidence for an effect of known glucocorticoid receptor gene polymorphisms on fetal and early postnatal growth characteristics. Further systematic searches for common genetic variants by means of genome-wide association studies will enable us to obtain a more complete understanding of what genes and polymorphisms are involved in growth in fetal life and infancy.

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Geelhoed, M.J.J., Steegers-Theunissen, R.P.M., Koper, J.W., van Rossum, E.F.C., Moll, H.A., Raat, H., … Jaddoe, V.W.V.. (2010). Glucocorticoid receptor gene polymorphisms do not affect growth in fetal and early postnatal life. The Generation R Study. B M C Medical Genetics, 11(1). doi:10.1186/1471-2350-11-39