Prenatal dietary exposures and offspring body size from 6 months to 18 years: A systematic review

Jacqueline Litvak, Niyati Parekh, Andrea Deierlein

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: In utero dietary exposures may influence childhood obesity. Objectives: To evaluate the relationship between prenatal dietary exposures and offspring body size from 6 months to 18 years. Data sources: Articles were identified in PubMed and Web of Science (January 2010-March 2018) using the PRISMA guidelines. Additional studies were identified through a reference review of articles that met the inclusion criteria and related reviews. Study selection: Prospective cohort studies that assessed dietary patterns, foods, macronutrients, or beverages during healthy pregnancy and offspring body size. The extraction of articles was done using predefined data fields. Synthesis: One author extracted all information and evaluated bias with the NHLBI's Quality Assessment Tool. Results: A total of 851 research articles were evaluated. Twenty-one studies assessing dietary patterns, macronutrients, foods, and beverages met inclusion criteria. Consumption of a Mediterranean dietary pattern during pregnancy was associated with reduced body size, while refined carbohydrates were associated with offspring obesity. No association was observed between data-driven dietary patterns and offspring body size, as well as a pro-inflammatory diet pattern and offspring body size. Mixed and null findings were observed for the relationship between total carbohydrates, n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, protein, sugar-sweetened beverages, and artificially sweetened beverages and offspring body size. Conclusions: Adhering to a Mediterranean diet and limiting refined carbohydrates during pregnancy may influence offspring body size between 6 months and 18 years. The diverging results that exist between studies highlight the complexity of this topic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-189
Number of pages19
JournalPaediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • adiposity
  • carbonated beverages
  • childhood obesity
  • mediterranean diet
  • n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • prenatal nutritional physiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Prenatal dietary exposures and offspring body size from 6 months to 18 years: A systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this