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Open Access Research article

Possible relation between maternal consumption of added sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages and birth weight – time trends in a population

Jacob Holter Grundt1, Jakob Nakling2, Geir Egil Eide34 and Trond Markestad56*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pediatrics, Innlandet Hospital Trust, Lillehammer, Norway

2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Innlandet Hospital Trust, Lillehammer, Norway

3 Centre for Clinical Research, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway

4 Department of Public Health and Primary Health Care, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway

5 Department of Research, Innlandet Hospital Trust, Brumunddal, Norway

6 Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:901  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-901

Published: 24 October 2012

Abstract

Background

High birth weight (BW) is a risk factor for later obesity. In Norway, mean BW and proportion of large newborns increased from 1989 to 2000 and subsequently decreased to the 1989 level by 2010. The purpose of the study was to explore causes of this temporary increase.

Methods

From a regional prospective database pregnancy and newborn data were extracted for all 33088 singleton pregnancies resulting in live infants born at term without malformations during 1989–2010. Trends in BW, ponderal index and proportion of large newborns were related to individual prenatal exposures, including pre-pregnancy body mass index (PP-BMI) and gestational weight gain (GWG) for the years 2001–2010, and thereafter related ecologically to national population data on consumption of nutrients and physical activity.

Results

For the regional cohort mean (standard deviation) BW increased from 3580 (453) grams in 1989/90 to 3633 (493) grams in 2001/02 (p<0.001), and decreased to 3583 (481) grams in 2009/10 (p<0.001). The proportion with BW>4500 grams increased from 2.6% to 4.8% (p<0.001) and subsequently decreased to 3.3% (p=0.002). The trends remained after adjustment for relevant exposures. For the years 2001/02 to 2009/10 (n= 15240) mean (SD) PP-BMI increased from 24.36 (4.44) to 24.85 (5.02) kg/m2 (p<0.001) while GWG decreased from 14.79 (5.85) to 13.86 (5.79) kg (p<0.001). The estimated net effect of changes in PP-BMI, GWG and other known exposures was a 6 grams reduction in BW from 2001/02 to 2009/10, leaving 44 grams reduction unexplained. National consumption of major nutrients did not change, but consumption of sucrose, in large part as sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) changed in parallel to the BW trends.

Conclusion

The temporary increase in BW and large babies in the regional cohort was identical to that reported for Norway. Individual level data on known pregnancy related predictors for BW could not explain these changes, but the parallel time trend in national consumption of sucrose, in particular as SSB, may lend support to a hypothesis that intake of sugar may have a direct effect on BW and infant body proportions independent of effects through PP-BMI and GWG.

Keywords:
Pregnancy; Body mass index; Weight gain; Birth weight; Macrosomia; Large for gestational age; Glucose; Sugar; Sugar-sweetened beverages; Norway