Pharmacologic sex hormones in pregnancy in relation to offspring obesity

Authors


  • Funding agencies: This research was supported in part by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

  • Disclosures: The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

  • Author contributions: ET Jensen contributed to the development of the research question and was responsible for the analyses and writing of the manuscript. MP Longnecker conceived and provided oversight to the conduct of the research.

Abstract

Objective

To assess the association between in utero exposure to either diethylstilbestrol (DES) or an oral contraceptive in pregnancy and offspring obesity.

Methods

Using data from the Collaborative Perinatal Project (1959-1974), a multicenter prospective study of pregnant women and their offspring, we examined overweight or obesity among 34,419 children with height and weight data at age 7 years. Generalized linear models to estimate the adjusted odds ratio (aOR) for overweight or obesity (≥85th percentile) or obesity (≥95th percentile) in the offspring according to exposure during different months of pregnancy were used.

Results

Oral contraceptive use during pregnancy was positively associated with offspring overweight or obesity and obesity. The magnitude of association was strongest in the first 2 months of pregnancy for obesity (aOR 2.0, 95% CI: 1.1, 3.7). DES use was also associated with offspring overweight or obesity and obesity, with the association being strongest for exposure beginning between months 3 and 5 (e.g., for exposure beginning in months 3-4, the aOR for obesity was 2.8, 95% CI: 1.3, 6.3).

Conclusions

Pharmacologic sex hormone use in pregnancy may be associated with childhood obesity. Whether contemporary, lower dose oral contraceptive formulations are similarly associated with increased risk of childhood obesity is unclear.

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