Objective To investigate the association of pre-existent or pregnancy-related hypertension with the offspring’s weight gain in the first 14 months of life.
Methods Prospective multi-ethnic community-based cohort study. In total, 3079 pregnant women completed two questionnaires covering sociodemographic data, pre-pregnancy and obstetric medical history, lifestyle and dietary habits at two timepoints (first term of pregnancy and 3 months following birth). Anthropometry of the offspring was followed during the first 14 months of life. Primary outcome: infant weight gain, expressed as continuous variable (change in standard deviation score; ΔSDS) and as dichotomised variable (normal: ΔSDS <0.67 vs accelerated growth: ΔSDS >0.67).
Results Pre-existent hypertension (prevalence 3.2%) and gestational hypertension (prevalence 10.1%) were not related to infant weight gain. However, also when corrected for confounding variables, pre-existent hypertension remained an independent determinant of accelerated growth in the offspring (odds ratio (OR) 2.27; 95% CI 1.25 to 3.78). Other factors, independently associated with accelerated growth were standardised birth weight, gestational age, gender, breastfeeding, smoking during pregnancy, parity, maternal height and pre-pregnancy body mass index and Surinamese, Turkish and Moroccan ethnicity.
Conclusions Maternal pre-existent hypertension is a risk factor for accelerated growth during the first 14 months of the offspring’s life. This is independent from fetal growth retardation or gestational age. Relevant ethnic differences appear to exist; infant weight gain and accelerated growth are more prevalent among Turkish or Moroccan infants and are less prevalent among Surinamese infants. Also, lower birth weight, shorter pregnancy duration, nulliparity and male gender are risk factors for accelerated growth and weight gain while prolonged breastfeeding is protective.