Maternal milk consumption, fetal growth, and the risks of neonatal complications: The Generation R Study
Background: Maternal cow-milk consumption may increase birth weight. Previous studies did not assess the association of maternal milk consumption with trimester-specific fetal growth. Objective: The objective was to assess associations of first-trimester maternal milk consumption with fetal growth characteristics in different trimesters and the risk of neonatal complications. Design: In total, 3405 mothers participating in a prospective cohort study completed a 293-item semiquantitative food-frequency questionnaire to obtain information about dairy consumption during the first trimester of pregnancy. Fetal head circumference, femur length, and weight were estimated in the second and third trimesters by ultrasonography. Results: Maternal milk consumption of >3 glasses/d was associated with greater fetal weight gain in the third trimester of pregnancy, which led to an 88-g (95% CI: 39, 135 g) higher birth weight than that with milk consumption of 0 to 1 glass/d. In addition, head circumference tended to be 2.3 cm (95% CI: -0.0, 4.6 cm) larger when mothers consumed >3 glasses/d. Maternal milk consumption was not associated with length growth. Maternal protein intake (P for trend = 0.01), but not fat or carbohydrate intake, from dairy products was associated with higher birth weight. This association appeared to be limited to milk (P for trend < 0.01), whereas protein intake from nondairy food or cheese was not associated with birth weight. Conclusions: Maternal milk consumption is associated with greater fetal weight gain. The association seems to be due to milk protein, or milk components closely associated with protein, rather than to the fat or carbohydrate fraction of milk.