2014 Study objective : to assess the association between in utero exposure to either diethylstilbestrol (DES) or an oral contraceptive in pregnancy and offspring obesity
What is already known about this subject
- In animal models, in utero exposure to exogenous estrogenic agents is associated with offspring adiposity.
- In in vitro and animal models, diethylstilbestrol exposure has led to an increase in stem cell differentiation into preadipocytes and adipocytes.
What this study adds
- An evaluation of the association between in utero exposure to pharmacologic estrogens and subsequent obesity in humans.
- A novel approach to studying the potential for developmental origins of obesity as conferred through in utero exposure to estrogenic agents.
Using data from the Collaborative Perinatal Project (1959-1974), a multicenter prospective study of pregnant women and their offspring, we examined overweight or obesity among 34,419 children with height and weight data at age 7 years. Generalized linear models to estimate the adjusted odds ratio (aOR) for overweight or obesity (≥85th percentile) or obesity (≥95th percentile) in the offspring according to exposure during different months of pregnancy were used.
Oral contraceptive use during pregnancy was positively associated with offspring overweight or obesity and obesity. The magnitude of association was strongest in the first 2 months of pregnancy for obesity (aOR 2.0, 95% CI: 1.1, 3.7). DES use was also associated with offspring overweight or obesity and obesity, with the association being strongest for exposure beginning between months 3 and 5 (e.g., for exposure beginning in months 3-4, the aOR for obesity was 2.8, 95% CI: 1.3, 6.3).
Pharmacologic sex hormone use in pregnancy may be associated with childhood obesity. Whether contemporary, lower dose oral contraceptive formulations are similarly associated with increased risk of childhood obesity is unclear.
- Full study (free access) : Pharmacologic sex hormones in pregnancy in relation to offspring obesity, Obesity (Silver Spring), PMID: 20688618, 2014 Nov.
- Featured image i yunmai.