ISSN 1662-4009 (online)

ESPE Yearbook of Paediatric Endocrinology (2021) 18 11.14 | DOI: 10.1530/ey.18.11.14

Epigenetics and Diabetes Unit, Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University Diabetes Centre, Lund University, Scania University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden.;

Diabetes 2021 Apr;70(4):854–866.

These authors performed a randomized trial of obese pregnant women (n=425) to investigate the effects of a pregnancy lifestyle intervention on epigenetic variations in umbilical cord blood, on neonatal body composition (DXA) and on offspring BMI in later life (up to 3 years). Offspring of mothers who received lifestyle intervention during pregnancy had a higher lean mass (+127g, 95%CI: -5-258g) and a higher abdominal lean mass (+59g, 95%CI: 11-108g) compared to offspring of mothers who received standard care. Furthermore, in umbilical cord blood DNA, 25 sites were differentially methylated according to the pregnancy intervention. 80% of these sites were more methylated in the intervention group and were also positively correlated with neonatal lean mass.

This study stands out from previous studies that have shown differences in cord blood methylation level in dependence on maternal pre-pregnancy overweight/obesity or excessive gestational weight gain (1, 2). As well as the randomized trial design, a notable feature is that newborn body composition was measured by DXA scan within the first 48 hours after birth. This made it possible to study an intervention effect on neonatal body composition, specifically on the lean mass. In order to assess the longer-term effects of the pregnancy lifestyle intervention on offspring body composition, it would have been advantageous to also apply DXA and not only BMI measures at age 3 years. Overall, these findings provide initial evidence that lifestyle interventions during pregnancy may positively influence the body composition of the offspring, although the long-term effects have yet to be demonstrated.

References: 1. Sharp GC, Salas LA, Monnereau C, Allard C et al. Maternal BMI at the start of pregnancy and offspring epigenome-wide DNA methylation: findings from the pregnancy and childhood epigenetics (PACE) consortium. Hum Mol Genet. 2017 Oct 15;26(20):4067–4085.2. Morales E, Groom A, Lawlor DA, Relton CL. DNA methylation signatures in cord blood associated with maternal gestational weight gain: results from the ALSPAC cohort. BMC Res Notes. 2014 May 2;7:278.

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