Relationships of maternal and paternal anthropometry with neonatal body size, proportions and adiposity in an Australian cohort.

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Wells, Jonathan CK 
Cole, Tim J 
O'Callaghan, Michael 
Stock, Jay T 

The patterns of association between maternal or paternal and neonatal phenotype may offer insight into how neonatal characteristics are shaped by evolutionary processes, such as conflicting parental interests in fetal investment and obstetric constraints. Paternal interests are theoretically served by maximizing fetal growth, and maternal interests by managing investment in current and future offspring, but whether paternal and maternal influences act on different components of overall size is unknown. We tested whether parents' prepregnancy height and body mass index (BMI) were related to neonatal anthropometry (birthweight, head circumference, absolute and proportional limb segment and trunk lengths, subcutaneous fat) among 1,041 Australian neonates using stepwise linear regression. Maternal and paternal height and maternal BMI were associated with birthweight. Paternal height related to offspring forearm and lower leg lengths, maternal height and BMI to neonatal head circumference, and maternal BMI to offspring adiposity. Principal components analysis identified three components of variability reflecting neonatal "head and trunk skeletal size," "adiposity," and "limb lengths." Regression analyses of the component scores supported the associations of head and trunk size or adiposity with maternal anthropometry, and limb lengths with paternal anthropometry. Our results suggest that while neonatal fatness reflects environmental conditions (maternal physiology), head circumference and limb and trunk lengths show differing associations with parental anthropometry. These patterns may reflect genetics, parental imprinting and environmental influences in a manner consistent with parental conflicts of interest. Paternal height may relate to neonatal limb length as a means of increasing fetal growth without exacerbating the risk of obstetric complications.

birthweight, limb length, neonatal anthropometry, parental BMI, parental height, Adiposity, Adult, Anthropometry, Australia, Birth Weight, Body Height, Body Size, Cohort Studies, Female, Humans, Infant, Newborn, Male, Parents, Principal Component Analysis, Young Adult
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Am J Phys Anthropol
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Grant sponsor: National Health and Medical Research Council (Australia; relevant phases of the Mater-University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy), Henry Sidgwick Research Fellowship from Newnham College, Cambridge, UK (to EP), and Medical Research Council; Grant number: MR/J004839/1.