The Protective Effect of Prenatal Social Support on Infant Adiposity in the First 18 Months of Life

Michelle Katzow, Mary Jo Messito, Alan L. Mendelsohn, Marc A. Scott, Rachel S. Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To determine whether prenatal social support was associated with infant adiposity in the first 18 months of life in a low-income, Hispanic sample, known to be at high risk of early child obesity. Study design: We performed a longitudinal analysis of 262 low-income, Hispanic mother-infant pairs in the control group of the Starting Early child obesity prevention trial. Prenatal social support was measured using an item from the Maternal Social Support Index. We used multilevel modeling to predict weight-for-length z-score trajectories from birth to age 18 months and logistic regression to predict macrosomia and overweight status at ages 6, 12, and 18 months. Results: High prenatal social support was independently associated with lower infant adiposity trajectories from birth to age 18 months (B = −0.40; 95% CI, −0.63 to −0.16), a lower odds of macrosomia (aOR = 0.35; 95% CI, 0.15-0.80), and a lower odds of overweight at ages 12 (aOR = 0.28; 95% CI, 0.10-0.74) and 18 months (aOR = 0.35; 95% CI, 0.14-0.89). Prenatal social support was not significantly associated with overweight status at age 6 months. Conclusions: Prenatal social support may protect against excessive infant adiposity and overweight in low-income, Hispanic families. Further research is needed to elucidate mechanisms underlying these associations and to inform preventive strategies beginning in pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-84
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • childhood obesity
  • hispanic
  • infancy
  • obesity prevention
  • pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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