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<jats:p>Early growth is associated with later risk of osteoporosis and fractures. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the relationships between maternal lifestyle and body composition and neonatal bone size, geometry and density in the offspring. Participants were recruited from the Southampton Women’s Survey, a unique prospective cohort of 12,500 initially non-pregnant women aged 20–34 years, resident in Southampton, UK. These women were studied in detail before and during pregnancy, and the offspring underwent anthropometric and bone mineral assessment (using dual energy-X-ray absorptiometry) at birth. A total of 841 mother–baby pairs were studied (443 boys and 398 girls). The independent predictors of greater neonatal whole body bone area (BA) and bone mineral content included greater maternal birthweight, height, parity, triceps skinfold thickness and lower walking speed in late pregnancy. Maternal smoking was independently associated with lower neonatal bone mass. Neonatal BA adjusted for birth length (a measure of bone width) was predicted positively by maternal parity and late pregnancy triceps skinfold thickness and negatively by late pregnancy walking speed. These findings were similar in both genders. We have confirmed, in a large cohort, previous findings that maternal lifestyle and body build predict neonatal bone mineral; additionally, maternal parity and fat stores and walking speed in late pregnancy were associated with neonatal bone geometry. These findings may suggest novel public health strategies to reduce the burden of osteoporotic fracture in future generations.</jats:p>

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease


Cambridge University Press (CUP)

Publication Date





35 - 41