Objectives: Leg length is the component of stature most sensitive to early life nutrition; as such, it provides an opportunity to retrospectively evaluate the relationship between a woman's infancy and early childhood nutrition and offspring birth weight (BW). Here we explore the relationship between maternal leg length and offspring BW in a rural Philippine community, while also investigating the potential role of placental size as a pathway. Methods: Anthropometric and questionnaire data were obtained among pregnant women (ages 17-42 years) at a birthing clinic in Antipolo City, Philippines (n=80). Offspring BW and placental weight were collected upon delivery. Results: Maternal leg length, but not trunk length, was a positive predictor of infant BW. This relationship was strengthened after adjusting for gestational age and maternal body mass index (BMI). Further adjustment for placental weight attenuated the relationship between leg length and BW, while placental weight was unrelated to maternal trunk length. The relationship between maternal BMI and BW was also attenuated after adjustment for placental weight. Conclusion: Maternal leg length is the component of stature that most strongly predicts offspring placental weight and BW in this sample. These findings suggest that fetal nutrition and growth in the present generation are influenced, in part, by the mother's own early life growth conditions. Our results add to evidence that fetal nutrition tracks the mother's past nutritional experiences, while also suggesting that ensuring favorable growth conditions during infancy and early childhood may benefit not only the present generation, but future offspring. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 26:652-659, 2014.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics