Few studies have examined whether the distinct metabolic patterns found in obese and nonobese pregnant women have different effects on the growing fetus. Our objective was to estimate the influence of longitudinal variation in maternal serum leptin levels on variation in infant birth weight in overweight/obese versus normal-weight women.
Design and Methods:
In a prospective cohort of 286 gravidas, maternal weight and serum leptin levels at 6–10, 10–14, 16–20, 22–26, and 32–36 weeks gestation were measured. Effects of leptin levels on infant birth weight adjusted for gestational age at delivery (aBW) were analyzed using a linear regression model that accounted for the relationship of time-varying predictors to the log-transformed leptin concentrations.
Different relationships of aBW to maternal serum leptin and its rate of change across pregnancy were exhibited by overweight/obese and normal-weight gravidas. For normal-weight women, aBW is not associated with either the magnitude of the logarithm of the leptin concentration or with its rate of change in either the first or second half of pregnancy. Conversely, for overweight/obese women, an increase in the rate of change in maternal serum leptin in the second half of pregnancy is significantly associated with a decrease in aBW. This effect is distinct from that of maternal weight.
Differences in the effect of maternal serum leptin on fetal growth between overweight/ obese and normal-weight women suggest metabolic and physiologic heterogeneity between these groups. Such differences may be involved in the long-term physiologic effects of the obese intrauterine environment on the health of the offspring.