Can antenatal diet and lifestyle interventions influence childhood obesity? A systematic review

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Evidence suggests that adverse nutritional exposures during in utero development may contribute to heightened risk of obesity in childhood. Pregnancy offers the opportunity to modify the intrauterine environment by manipulation of diet and/or physical activity, which may result in favourable health benefits for the child. The objective of this systematic review was to determine whether antenatal lifestyle interventions in pregnant women, aimed at modifying diet and/or physical activity, and lead to a reduction in measures of offspring obesity in early child hood. Three electronic databases were searched from January 1990 to July 2017 for ante natal interventions with subsequent offspring follow ‐up publications. Eight trials were identified. Five trials included women from all body mass index categories, and 3 trials included obese women only. Children in the offspring follow‐up studies were aged 6 months to 7 years. Measures of adiposity in the offspring (n = 1989) included weight, body mass index, z‐scores, circumferences, and skinfold thicknesses. Two studies, focusing on obese women only, reported reduced measures of adiposity (subscapular skinfold thickness and weight‐for‐age z‐score) at 6 and 12 months, respectively. The remaining 6 studies, two from infancy and 4 in early childhood found no effect on measures of adiposity. Measures of obesity up to 12 months of age have been shown to be reduced by antenatal lifestyle interventions during pregnancy in obese women. Due to the heterogeneity of the methodology of the antenatal interventions and the reported offspring outcomes we were unable to draw any conclusion on the influence of antenatal interventions on measures of obesity in early childhood,
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12628
Number of pages17
JournalMaternal And Child Nutrition
Early online date1 Jul 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Jul 2018


  • antenatal interventions
  • Developmental origins of disease
  • Body Composition


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