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Open Access Research article

Reduced genetic influence on childhood obesity in small for gestational age children

Dug Yeo Han13*, Rinki Murphy4, Angharad R Morgan13, Wen Jiun Lam13, John M D Thompson2, Clare R Wall1, Karen E Waldie2, Edwin A Mitchell2* and Lynnette R Ferguson13*

Author Affiliations

1 Discipline of Nutrition, FM&HS, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

2 Department of Paediatrics, FM&HS, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

3 Nutrigenomics New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand

4 Department of Medicine, FM&HS, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

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BMC Medical Genetics 2013, 14:10  doi:10.1186/1471-2350-14-10

Published: 22 January 2013



Children born small-for-gestational-age (SGA) are at increased risk of developing obesity and metabolic diseases later in life, a risk which is magnified if followed by accelerated postnatal growth. We investigated whether common gene variants associated with adult obesity were associated with increased postnatal growth, as measured by BMI z-score, in children born SGA and appropriate for gestational age (AGA) in the Auckland Birthweight Collaborative.


A total of 37 candidate SNPs were genotyped on 547 European children (228 SGA and 319 AGA). Repeated measures of BMI (z-score) were used for assessing obesity status, and results were corrected for multiple testing using the false discovery rate.


SGA children had a lower BMI z-score than non-SGA children at assessment age 3.5, 7 and 11 years. We confirmed 27 variants within 14 obesity risk genes to be individually associated with increasing early childhood BMI, predominantly in those born AGA.


Genetic risk variants are less important in influencing early childhood BMI in those born SGA than in those born AGA, suggesting that non-genetic or environmental factors may be more important in influencing childhood BMI in those born SGA.

BMI; Childhood obesity; AGA children; SGA children