Associations between maternal pre-pregnancy BMI and infant striatal mean diffusivity

BMC Med. 2024 Mar 25;22(1):140. doi: 10.1186/s12916-024-03340-z.


BACKGROUND: It is well-established that parental obesity is a strong risk factor for offspring obesity. Further, a converging body of evidence now suggests that maternal weight profiles may affect the developing offspring’s brain in a manner that confers future obesity risk. Here, we investigated how pre-pregnancy maternal weight status influences the reward-related striatal areas of the offspring’s brain during in utero development.

METHODS: We used diffusion tensor imaging to quantify the microstructure of the striatal brain regions of interest in neonates (N = 116 [66 males, 50 females], mean gestational weeks at birth [39.88], SD = 1.14; at scan [43.56], SD = 1.05). Linear regression was used to test the associations between maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) and infant striatal mean diffusivity.

RESULTS: High maternal pre-pregnancy BMI was associated with higher mean MD values in the infant’s left caudate nucleus. Results remained unchanged after the adjustment for covariates.

CONCLUSIONS: In utero exposure to maternal adiposity might have a growth-impairing impact on the mean diffusivity of the infant’s left caudate nucleus. Considering the involvement of the caudate nucleus in regulating eating behavior and food-related reward processing later in life, this finding calls for further investigations to define the prognostic relevance of early-life caudate nucleus development and weight trajectories of the offspring.

PMID:38528552 | DOI:10.1186/s12916-024-03340-z

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