Background and aims: Prepregnancy maternal obesity is a global health problem and has been associated with offspring metabolic and mental ill-health. However, there is a knowledge gap in understanding potential neurobiological factors related to these associations. This study explored the relation between maternal prepregnancy body mass index (BMI) and offspring brain white matter microstructure at the age of 6, 10, and 26 years in three independent cohorts. Subjects and methods: The study used data from three European birth cohorts (n = 116 children aged 6 years, n = 2466 children aged 10 years, and n = 437 young adults aged 26 years). Information on maternal prepregnancy BMI was obtained before or during pregnancy and offspring brain white matter microstructure was measured at age 6, 10, or 26 years. We used magnetic resonance imaging-derived fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) as measures of white matter microstructure in the brainstem, callosal, limbic, association, and projection tracts. Linear regressions were fitted to examine the association of maternal BMI and offspring white matter microstructure, adjusting for several socioeconomic and lifestyle-related confounders, including education, smoking, and alcohol use. Results: Maternal BMI was associated with higher FA and lower MD in multiple brain tracts, for example, association and projection fibers, in offspring aged 10 and 26 years, but not at 6 years. In each cohort maternal BMI was related to different white matter tract and thus no common associations across the cohorts were found. Conclusions: Maternal BMI was associated with higher FA and lower MD in multiple brain tracts in offspring aged 10 and 26 years, but not at 6 years of age. Future studies should examine whether our observations can be replicated and explore the potential causal nature of the findings.

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Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41366-018-0268-x, hdl.handle.net/1765/113085
Journal International Journal of Obesity
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Citation
Verdejo-Román, J. (Juan), Björnholm, L. (Lassi), Muetzel, R.L, Torres-Espínola, F.J. (Francisco José), Lieslehto, J. (Johannes), Jaddoe, V.W.V, … El Marroun, H. (2018). Maternal prepregnancy body mass index and offspring white matter microstructure: results from three birth cohorts. International Journal of Obesity. doi:10.1038/s41366-018-0268-x