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Maternal age at childbirth continues to increase worldwide. We aimed to assess whether increasing maternal age is associated with changes in childhood height, body composition, and metabolism. 277 healthy pre-pubertal children, born 37-41 weeks gestation were studied. Assessments included: height and weight corrected for parental measurements, DEXA-derived body composition, fasting lipids, glucose, insulin, and hormonal profiles. Subjects were separated according to maternal age at childbirth: <30, 30-35, and >35 years. Our cohort consisted of 126 girls and 151 boys, aged 7.4 ± 2.2 years (range 3-10); maternal age at childbirth was 33.3 ± 4.7 years (range 19-44). Children of mothers aged >35 and 30-35 years at childbirth were taller than children of mothers aged <30 years by 0.26 (p = 0.002) and 0.23 (p = 0.042) SDS, respectively. There was a reduction in childhood BMISDS with increasing maternal age at childbirth, and children of mothers aged >35 years at childbirth were 0.61 SDS slimmer than those of mothers <30 years (p = 0.049). Children of mothers aged 30-35 (p = 0.022) and >35 (p = 0.036) years at childbirth had abdominal adiposity reduced by 10% and 13%, respectively, compared to those in the <30 group. Children of mothers aged 30-35 years at childbirth displayed a 19% increase in IGF-I concentrations compared to offspring in <30 group (p = 0.042). Conversely, IGF-II concentrations were lower among the children born to mothers aged 30-35 (6.5%; p = 0.004) and >35 (8.1%; p = 0.005) compared to those of mothers aged <30 years. Girls of mothers aged 30-35 years at childbirth also displayed improved HOMA-IR insulin sensitivity (p = 0.010) compared to girls born to mothers aged <30 years. Increasing maternal age at childbirth is associated with a more favourable phenotype (taller stature and reduced abdominal fat) in their children, as well as improved insulin sensitivity in girls.


Tim Savage, José G B Derraik, Harriet L Miles, Fran Mouat, Paul L Hofman, Wayne S Cutfield. Increasing maternal age is associated with taller stature and reduced abdominal fat in their children. PloS one. 2013;8(3):e58869

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PMID: 23527040

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