Overweight, obesity during pregnancy up offspring’s NAFLD risk

27 Oct 2021
Overweight, obesity during pregnancy up offspring’s NAFLD risk

Overweight or obesity during pregnancy increases the risk of future nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in the offspring, a recent Sweden study has found.

Drawing from the nationwide ESPRESSO cohort study, the researchers enrolled 165 patients ≤25 years of age with biopsy-proven NAFLD. Maternal pregnancy data were retrieved from the national Swedish Medical Birth Register. For risk factor analysis, patients were matched according to age, sex, and calendar year with up to five controls (n=717).

Multivariable conditional regression analyses found that maternal body mass index (BMI) was an important risk factor for future offspring NAFLD development. For instance, those born to overweight (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 1.51, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.95–2.40) were 50 percent more likely to develop NAFLD, though such effect was only of borderline significance.

In addition, infants of mothers who were obese during pregnancy were more than thrice as likely to develop NAFLD (adjusted OR, 3.26, 95 percent CI, 1.72–6.19). In contrast, underweight during pregnancy exerted a marginal protective effect against offspring NAFLD (adjusted OR, 0.84, 95 percent CI, 0.14–5.15). All analyses were performed using normal pregnancy BMI as a reference.

Maternal smoking (≥10 sticks per day) likewise increased NAFLD risk in the offspring, while giving birth in a Nordic country suppressed such risk.

“As obesity is increasing, [the present study] has implications for the future prevalence of NAFLD. Mothers with an elevated BMI should receive active counselling on how to reduce the risk of NAFLD in their offspring,” the researchers said.

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