Perinatal inflammation and childhood adiposity–a gender effect?

Type Article

Journal Article


J. M. Donnelly; K. Lindsay; J. M. Walsh; M. K. Horan; D. O’Shea; E. J. Molloy; F. M. McAuliffe

Year of publication



Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine








Background: To determine the association of maternal and fetal inflammatory factors with gender-specific infant adiposity, independent of leptin. Methods: Analysis of anthropometry from 265 mother–infant pairs at birth and 280 pairs at 6 months from the randomised control trial of low glycaemic index diet in pregnancy (ROLO) study (Randomised control trial of low glycaemic index diet) and their association with Maternal TNF-alpha, interleukin 6 and leptin as measured in early and late pregnancy and fetal levels in cord blood. Results: No associations were noted in the male cohort. On multiple regression amongst the female neonatal cohort late pregnancy IL-6 was inversely associated with sum of skinfolds (p ≤.001); at 6 months infant sum of skinfolds were positively associated with early pregnancy IL-6 (p =.046) and central adiposity positively associated with early pregnancy TNF alpha (p =.018) independent of leptin. Conclusion: Although maternal inflammatory cytokines were not associated with neonatal adiposity independent of leptin (as this association is known), both IL-6 and TNF-α were associated with female infant anthropometry at 6 months of age independent of leptin. These results suggest inflammatory cytokines may exert an in-utero influence on later infant adiposity with a tendency to influence female adiposity more than male. Further research is required to ascertain whether these cytokines may be used as reliable early predictors of infant adiposity.