Parental growth at different life stages and offspring birthweight: An intergenerational cohort study

Elina Hyppönen, Chris Power, George Davey Smith

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    60 Citations (Scopus)


    Using three generations of the 1958 British national birth cohort we investigated ways in which parental size is related to offspring birthweight. By age 41 years, 4566 singleton female and 4050 male cohort members (born 3-9 March, 1958) had become parents and provided information on their singleton offspring. Mother's birthweight (standardised for gestational age and sex) was the strongest determinant of offspring birthweight (effect size [ES] per SDS 112 g [95% CI 97, 128]), which was little affected by adjustment for maternal height or BMI (ES 95 g and 105 g respectively). The intergenerational birthweight association was not observed for mothers born very small or large. Mother's childhood height at age 7 (ES 46 g [24, 67]), but not BMI (ES 3 g [-18, 23]), was associated with offspring birthweight after adjustment for grandparental size, own birthweight, and adult size. Controlling for other growth measures strongly attenuated the association between mother's adult height and offspring birthweight: (ES 90 g, unadjusted, and 25 g, adjusted), while the association between adult BMI and offspring birthweight was little affected (ES 55 g and 51 g respectively). Father's BMI did not affect offspring birthweight, while the associations for height were similar, albeit weaker, than those observed for the mother. Our results suggest that intergenerational associations in birthweights are largely independent of postnatal size. Maternal height in childhood was positively related to offspring birthweight, while the effect of her BMI was restricted to adulthood.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)168-177
    Number of pages10
    JournalPaediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished or Issued - May 2004

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Epidemiology
    • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

    Cite this