Background and Aim Neonatal size, and especially a relative “thinness”, is associated with future risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. The aim was to explore ethnic differences in neonatal body composition in a multi-ethnic population, and associations with parental anthropometrics and parity.
Methods A population-based cohort study of healthy pregnant women living in Oslo, Norway. Maternal data were collected in early pregnancy and neonatal weight, length, circumferences and skin folds after birth. Individual z-scores were calculated (stratified by gender and gestational age) with Western Europeans (WE) as reference. A general linear model was used to assess associations with parental anthropometry and parity. Crude and adjusted mean z-scores for neonates with origin from low- and middle income countries (LAMIC), with WE as reference, is presented.
Results 511 healthy, term neonates were included. LAMIC parents (n=282) were shorter than WE (n=229), had similar BMI but more maternal subcutaneous fat. Among the LAMIC neonates abdominal circumference differed the most from WE (mean z-score: –0.57 SD (95% CI:–0.69 to –0.44)) Neonatal skin folds were also smaller in the immigrant group (–0.29 (–0.40 to –0.17). Length, however, was not significantly smaller (–0.21 (–0.35 to –0.07)). The observed ethnic differences were reduced when adjusting for parental body composition, but abdominal circumference remained significantly smaller (–0.37 (–0.53 to –0.21)).
Conclusions There were marked differences in neonatal body composition between neonates born by ethnic WE women and women with ethnic origin from LAMIC countries. Abdominal circumference was still smaller after adjustment for parental body composition.
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