Taking the long view: The prenatal environment and early adolescent overweight


  • Pamela J. Salsberry,

    Corresponding author
    1. College of Nursing, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
    • College of Nursing, Ohio State University, 1585 Neil Ave, Columbus, OH 43210.
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    • Associate Professor.

  • Patricia B. Reagan

    1. Department of Economics and Center for Human Resource Research, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
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    • Professor.


The purpose of this study was to assess the independent effects of the prenatal environment and cumulated social risks on the likelihood of being overweight at age 12/13 years. Maternal prepregnancy weight and smoking during pregnancy were the measures of prenatal exposures. Average lifetime per capita income and mother's lifetime marital status were the measures of cumulative social risks. Analysis of data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth's Child–Mother file indicated that exposures to tobacco smoke in utero, maternal prepregnancy overweight/obesity, and maternal unmarried status were significant risks for adolescent overweight. The risk for overweight was reduced by breastfeeding if the mother was overweight/obese prepregnancy. Prenatal and early life factors were related to adolescent overweight, providing an important window for intervention. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 30: 297–307, 2007