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Maternal pregnancy C-reactive protein predicts offspring birth size and body composition in metropolitan Cebu, Philippines

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 July 2017

C. W. Kuzawa
Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA
R. L. Fried
Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA
J. B. Borja
Office of Population Studies Foundation, University of San Carlos, Cebu City, Philippines
T. W. McDade
Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA
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The gestational milieu is an important influence on fetal development and long-term disease risk. Here we assess relationships between maternal pregnancy inflammation, indicated by C-reactive protein (CRP), and offspring anthropometric outcomes measured soon after birth. Data come from female participants (n=327, age 24.4–30.2 years) in a longitudinal study located in Metropolitan Cebu, Philippines. Between 2009 and 2014, pregnancy interviews (n=429) were conducted during which questionnaire and anthropometric data were obtained along with dried blood spot cards for CRP measurement. Offspring body weight, length, head circumference and five skinfold thickness measures were obtained soon after birth. Maternal pregnancy CRP was borderline (−1.11±0.64 days/log-mg/l; P<0.1) inversely related to gestational age at delivery, but did not increase the likelihood of preterm delivery. After adjusting for maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index, height, pregnancy adiposity, age, parity and other covariates, CRP was significantly, inversely related to offspring body weight (−0.047±0.017 kg/log-mg/l), length (−0.259±0.092 cm/log-mg/l) and sum of skinfolds (−0.520±0.190 mm/log-mg/l) (all P<0.05), and borderline inversely related to offspring head circumference (−0.102±0.068 cm/log-mg/l; P<0.1). Notably, relationships were continuous across the full CRP range, and not limited to unusually high levels of inflammation. These findings point to an important role of maternal non-specific immune activation as a predictor of offspring birth outcomes. In light of evidence that early life microbial, nutritional and stress experiences influence adult inflammatory regulation, these findings point to inflammation as a potential pathway for the intergenerational transmission of maternal experience to offspring health.

Original Article
© Cambridge University Press and the International Society for Developmental Origins of Health and Disease 2017 

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