BACKGROUND: An association between maternal pre-pregnancy BMI and childhood intelligence quotient (IQ) has repeatedly been found but it is unknown if this association is causal or due to confounding caused by genetic or social factors. METHODS: We used a cohort of 1,783 mothers and their 5-year-old children sampled from the Danish National Birth Cohort. The children participated between 2003 and 2008 in a neuropsychological assessment of cognitive ability including IQ tests taken by both the mother and the child. Linear regression analyses were used to estimate the associations between parental BMI and child IQ adjusted for a comprehensive set of potential confounders. Child IQ was assessed with the Wechsler Primary and Preschool Scales of Intelligence--Revised (WPPSI-R). RESULTS: The crude association between maternal BMI and child IQ showed that BMI was adversely associated with child IQ with a reduction in IQ of -0.40 point for each one unit increase in BMI. This association was attenuated after adjustment for social factors and maternal IQ to a value of -0.27 (-0.50 to -0.03). After mutual adjustment for the father's BMI and all other factors except maternal IQ, the association between paternal BMI and child IQ yielded a regression coefficient of -0.26 (-0.59 to 0.07), which was comparable to that seen for maternal BMI (-0.20 (-0.44 to 0.04)). CONCLUSION: Although maternal pre-pregnancy BMI was inversely associated with the IQ of her child, the similar association with paternal BMI suggests that it is not a specific pregnancy related adiposity effect.
P L O S One, 2014, Vol 9, Issue 4, p. 1-7
Body Mass Index; Child; Child, Preschool; Cohort Studies; Female; Humans; Intelligence Tests; Life Style; Male; Pregnancy; Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.