Background: Newborns exhibit substantial variation in fat mass accretion over gestation. These individual differences in newborn adiposity extend into infancy and childhood and relate to subsequent risk of obesity and metabolic dysregulation. Maternal glucose homeostasis in pregnancy has been proposed as an underlying mechanism; however, the timing in gestation when maternal glucose regulation influences the progression of fetal fat deposition remain unclear. Objective: This study aimed to investigate the cross-sectional and longitudinal association of maternal insulin resistance in early, mid, and late pregnancy with fetal fat deposition in uncomplicated pregnancies. We hypothesized that maternal insulin resistance at early, mid, and late gestation is positively associated with fetal fat deposition, and that the magnitude of the association is greater for the mid and late gestation measures than for the early gestation measure. Study Design: In a longitudinal study of 137 low-risk pregnancies, a fasting maternal blood sample was obtained and fetal ultrasonography was performed at ≈ 12, 20, and 30 weeks’ gestation. Maternal insulin resistance was quantified using the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (fasting insulin×fasting glucose/405). Estimated fetal adiposity was calculated by integrating measurements of cross-sectional arm and thigh percentage fat area and anterior abdominal wall thickness. The associations between maternal homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance and estimated fetal adiposity and estimated fetal weight were determined by multiple linear regression adjusted for potential confounding factors including maternal age, parity, race and ethnicity, prepregnancy body mass index, gestational weight gain per week, fetal sex, and gestational age at assessments. Results: Maternal homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance at ≈ 12, 20, and 30 weeks was 2.79±1.79 (±standard deviation), 2.78±1.54, and 3.76±2.30, respectively. Homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance at 20 weeks was positively associated with estimated fetal adiposity at 20 weeks (r=0.261; P=.005). Homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance at 20 weeks (r=0.215; P=.011) and 30 weeks (r=0.285; P=.001) were also positively associated with estimated fetal adiposity at 30 weeks. These relationships remained significant after adjustment for confounding factors. There was no significant correlation between homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance and estimated fetal weight at 20 and 30 weeks’ gestation. Conclusion: In low-risk pregnancies, maternal insulin resistance at mid and late but not early pregnancy is significantly associated with fetal adiposity but not with fetal weight. Maternal insulin resistance in mid-gestation could provide a basis for risk identification and interventions that target child adiposity.
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