Maternal BMI and Glycemia Impact the Fetal Metabolome

OBJECTIVE

We used targeted metabolomics to determine associations of maternal BMI and glucose levels with cord blood metabolites and associations of cord blood metabolites with newborn birth weight and adiposity in mother-offspring dyads.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS

Targeted metabolomic assays were performed on cord blood serum samples from European ancestry, Afro-Caribbean, Thai, and Mexican American newborns (400 from each ancestry group) whose mothers participated in the Hyperglycemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome (HAPO) Study and who had anthropometric measurements at birth.

RESULTS

Meta-analysis across the four cohorts demonstrated significant correlation of all cord blood metabolites analyzed with maternal fasting levels of the same metabolites at ~28 weeks’ gestation except for triglycerides, asparagine/aspartate, arginine, and the acylcarnitine C14-OH/C12-DC. Meta-analyses also demonstrated that maternal BMI with or without adjustment for maternal glucose was associated with cord blood metabolites including the branched-chain amino acids and their metabolites as well as phenylalanine. One-hour but not fasting glucose was associated with cord blood 3-hydroxybutyrate and its carnitine ester, a medium-chain acylcarnitine, and glycerol. A number of cord blood metabolites were associated with newborn birth weight and sum of skinfolds, including a negative association of triglycerides and positive association of 3-hydroxybutyrate, its carnitine ester, and serine with both newborn outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS

Maternal BMI and glycemia are associated with different components of the newborn metabolome, consistent with their independent effects on newborn size at birth. Maternal BMI is associated with a newborn metabolic signature characteristic of insulin resistance and risk of type 2 diabetes in adults.

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