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Maternal factors during pregnancy influencing maternal, fetal and childhood outcomes

Guest edited by: Dr Louis Muglia, Professor Stephen Tong, Professor Susan Ozanne and Professor Katrien Benhalima.

maternal factors (1)

A myriad of maternal factors (including pre-existing conditions, environmental exposures, and genetic predisposition) are known to influence pregnancy, childbirth, and the health of both the mother and her child during pregnancy and long after birth. Collectively, these issues represent a serious and growing burden on expectant mothers and their children; for example, in the United States, gestational diabetes is thought to affect between 2 and 10% of mothers each year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and around 1 in 160 babies are stillborn (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Understanding how these factors can influence outcomes for both mother and child, as well as identifying novel factors that mediate these effects, is crucial in addressing this global problem. BMC Medicine is pleased to launch a Collection titled ‘Maternal factors during pregnancy influencing maternal, fetal and childhood outcomes’, that welcomes outstanding contributions in these fields. We are particularly interested in papers that fall under the following topics:

Maternal factors

  • Pre-existing medical conditions (for example polycystic ovary syndrome, diabetes and endometriosis)
  • Maternal stress and mental health (including socio-economic factors, stigmas)
  • Environmental exposures (for example smoking, alcohol and pollution)
  • Obesity/high BMI
  • Microbiota
  • Breastfeeding
  • Genetics/epigenetics
  • Nutrition (including macronutrients and essential micronutrients)

Outcomes

  • Fetal outcomes in pregnancy (for example stillbirth, preterm birth, normal and disordered fetal growth and cognitive development)
  • Childhood outcomes following fetal and maternal complications during pregnancy (for example childhood obesity, cardiovascular disease risk, congenital disorders and cognitive development)
  • Maternal outcomes in pregnancy (pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, blood pressure and maternal hemorrhage)
  • Maternal and offspring benefits of breastfeeding
  • Maternal risk of developing diseases in later life (for example type 2 diabetes, hypertension and gestational diabetes risk in subsequent pregnancies)
  • How pregnancy can affect maternal pre-existing/co-existing medical conditions

BMC Medicine encourages submissions of front matter articles and original research including randomised clinical trials (phase I, I/II, II and III as well as positive or negative trials), epidemiological studies (retrospective or prospective), systematic and umbrella reviews, medical imaging, medical genomics studies, biomarkers and translational research. We also welcome outstanding mechanistic laboratory studies that provide translational insights.

Please note that we do not consider case reports.


  1. Rapid postnatal growth may result from exposure in utero or early life to adverse conditions and has been associated with diseases later in life and, in particular, with childhood obesity. DNA methylation, interf...

    Authors: Rossella Alfano, Daniela Zugna, Henrique Barros, Mariona Bustamante, Leda Chatzi, Akram Ghantous, Zdenko Herceg, Pekka Keski-Rahkonen, Theo M. de Kok, Tim S Nawrot, Caroline L Relton, Oliver Robinson, Theano Roumeliotaki, Augustin Scalbert, Martine Vrijheid, Paolo Vineis…
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2023 21:17
  2. Prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) affects embryonic development, causing a variable fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) phenotype with neuronal disorders and birth defects. We hypothesize that early alcohol-i...

    Authors: P. Auvinen, J. Vehviläinen, H. Marjonen, V. Modhukur, J. Sokka, E. Wallén, K. Rämö, L. Ahola, A. Salumets, T. Otonkoski, H. Skottman, M. Ollikainen, R. Trokovic, H. Kahila and N. Kaminen-Ahola
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2022 20:495
  3. Leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is suggested to be a biomarker of biological age and reported to be associated with metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Glucose metabolic traits including glucose and in...

    Authors: Kwun Kiu Wong, Feifei Cheng, Cadmon K. P. Lim, Claudia H. T. Tam, Greg Tutino, Lai Yuk Yuen, Chi Chiu Wang, Yong Hou, Michael H. M. Chan, Chung Shun Ho, Mugdha V. Joglekar, Anandwardhan A. Hardikar, Alicia J. Jenkins, Boyd E. Metzger, William L. Lowe Jr., Wing Hung Tam…
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2022 20:490
  4. Preterm birth may affect maternal mental health, yet most studies focus on postpartum mental disorders only. We explored the relationship between preterm delivery and the long-term risk of maternal hospitaliza...

    Authors: Gabriel Côté-Corriveau, Gilles Paradis, Thuy Mai Luu, Aimina Ayoub, Marianne Bilodeau-Bertrand and Nathalie Auger
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2022 20:447
  5. Several recent observational studies have reported that gut microbiota composition is associated with preeclampsia. However, the causal effect of gut microbiota on preeclampsia-eclampsia is unknown.

    Authors: Pengsheng Li, Haiyan Wang, Lan Guo, Xiaoyan Gou, Gengdong Chen, Dongxin Lin, Dazhi Fan, Xiaoling Guo and Zhengping Liu
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2022 20:443
  6. The influence of maternal levothyroxine treatment during pregnancy remains unclear. This study aimed to evaluate the associations of maternal levothyroxine treatment during pregnancy with the birth and neurode...

    Authors: Grace Mengqin Ge, Edmund C. L. Cheung, Kenneth K. C. Man, Patrick Ip, Wing Cheong Leung, Gloria H. Y. Li, Annie W. C. Kung, Ching-Lung Cheung and Ian C. K. Wong
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2022 20:390
  7. The Accelerating Innovation for Mothers (AIM) project established a database of candidate medicines in research and development (R&D) between 2000 and 2021 for five pregnancy-related conditions, including pre-...

    Authors: Annie R. A. McDougall, Roxanne Hastie, Maya Goldstein, Andrew Tuttle, Stephen Tong, Anne Ammerdorffer, A. Metin Gülmezoglu and Joshua P. Vogel
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2022 20:393
  8. Gestational age (GA) is associated with later cognition and behavior. However, it is unclear how specific cognitive domains and brain structural development varies with the stepwise change of gestational durat...

    Authors: Qing Ma, Hui Wang, Edmund T. Rolls, Shitong Xiang, Jiong Li, Yuzhu Li, Qiongjie Zhou, Wei Cheng and Fei Li
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2022 20:424
  9. Breastmilk is a dynamic fluid whose initial function is to provide the most adapted nutrition to the neonate. Additional attributes have been recently ascribed to breastmilk, with the evidence of a specific mi...

    Authors: Raúl Piñeiro-Salvador, Eduardo Vazquez-Garza, José Antonio Cruz-Cardenas, Cuauhtémoc Licona-Cassani, Gerardo García-Rivas, Jorge Moreno-Vásquez, Mario René Alcorta-García, Victor Javier Lara-Diaz and Marion E. G. Brunck
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2022 20:388
  10. Maternal blood pressure levels reflect cardiovascular adaptation to pregnancy and proper maternal-fetal exchanges through the placenta and are very sensitive to numerous environmental stressors. Maternal hyper...

    Authors: Lucile Broséus, Daniel Vaiman, Jörg Tost, Camino Ruano San Martin, Milan Jacobi, Joel D. Schwartz, Rémi Béranger, Rémy Slama, Barbara Heude and Johanna Lepeule
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2022 20:397
  11. Cervical insufficiency is one of the underlying causes of late miscarriage and preterm birth. Although many risk factors have been identified, the relative magnitude of their association with risk in nulliparo...

    Authors: Lili Meng, Sara Öberg, Anna Sandström, Chen Wang and Marie Reilly
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2022 20:348
  12. Birth weight is considered not only to undermine future growth, but also to induce lifelong diseases; the aim of this study is to explore the relationship between birth weight and adult bone mass.

    Authors: Jiang-Wei Xia, Lin Zhang, Jin Li, Cheng-Da Yuan, Xiao-Wei Zhu, Yu Qian, Saber Khederzadeh, Jia-Xuan Gu, Lin Xu, Jian-Hua Gao, Ke-Qi Liu, David Karasik, Shu-Yang Xie, Guo-Bo Chen and Hou-Feng Zheng
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2022 20:361
  13. Identifying pregnancies at risk for preterm birth, one of the leading causes of worldwide infant mortality, has the potential to improve prenatal care. However, we lack broadly applicable methods to accurately...

    Authors: Abin Abraham, Brian Le, Idit Kosti, Peter Straub, Digna R. Velez-Edwards, Lea K. Davis, J. M. Newton, Louis J. Muglia, Antonis Rokas, Cosmin A. Bejan, Marina Sirota and John A. Capra
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2022 20:333
  14. Offspring born to women with pregestational type 1 diabetes (T1DM) are exposed to an intrauterine hyperglycemic milieu and has an increased risk of metabolic disease later in life. In this present study, we hy...

    Authors: Sine Knorr, Anne Skakkebæk, Jesper Just, Emma B. Johannsen, Christian Trolle, Søren Vang, Zuzana Lohse, Birgitte Bytoft, Peter Damm, Kurt Højlund, Dorte M. Jensen and Claus H. Gravholt
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2022 20:338
  15. The type 2 diabetes risk after gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is twice as high in South Asian compared to European women. Current guidelines differ regarding which test to use as a screening-tool post-GDM...

    Authors: Archana Sharma, Ingrid Nermoen, Elisabeth Qvigstad, Anh T. Tran, Christine Sommer, Naveed Sattar, Jason M. R. Gill, Hanne L. Gulseth, Stina T. Sollid and Kåre I. Birkeland
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2022 20:318
  16. Gestational diabetes (GDM) is prevalent and benefits from timely and effective treatment, given the short window to impact glycemic control. Clinicians face major barriers to choosing effectively among treatme...

    Authors: Lauren D. Liao, Assiamira Ferrara, Mara B. Greenberg, Amanda L. Ngo, Juanran Feng, Zhenhua Zhang, Patrick T. Bradshaw, Alan E. Hubbard and Yeyi Zhu
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2022 20:307
  17. Preeclampsia (PE) is a multisystemic maternal syndrome with substantial maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality. Currently, there is no clinically viable non-invasive biomarker assay for early detection, th...

    Authors: Siqi Bao, Tong Zhou, Congcong Yan, Jiale Bao, Fan Yang, Shan Chao, Meng Zhou and Zhangye Xu
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2022 20:303
  18. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects up to one in five women of childbearing age. Observational studies assessing the association between maternal PCOS and adverse obstetric outcomes have reported varying ...

    Authors: Anuradhaa Subramanian, Siang Ing Lee, Katherine Phillips, Konstantinos A. Toulis, Punith Kempegowda, Michael W. O’Reilly, Nicola J. Adderley, Shakila Thangaratinam, Wiebke Arlt and Krishnarajah Nirantharakumar
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2022 20:298
  19. Maternal smoking during pregnancy was reported to be associated with a reduced risk of type 1 diabetes in the offspring. We investigated whether this association is consistent with a causal interpretation by a...

    Authors: Yuxia Wei, Tomas Andersson, Jessica Edstorp, Josefin E. Löfvenborg, Mats Talbäck, Maria Feychting and Sofia Carlsson
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2022 20:240

    The Commentary to this article has been published in BMC Medicine 2022 20:296

  20. Lipids play a vital role in health and disease, but changes to their circulating levels and the link with obesity remain poorly characterized in expecting mothers and their offspring in early childhood.

    Authors: Sartaj Ahmad Mir, Li Chen, Satvika Burugupalli, Bo Burla, Shanshan Ji, Adam Alexander T. Smith, Kothandaraman Narasimhan, Adaikalavan Ramasamy, Karen Mei-Ling Tan, Kevin Huynh, Corey Giles, Ding Mei, Gerard Wong, Fabian Yap, Kok Hian Tan, Fiona Collier…
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2022 20:242
  21. Prenatal maternal tobacco smoking is a predictor of child attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and is associated with offspring telomere length (TL). In this study, we examine the relationship betwe...

    Authors: Meghan P. Howell, Christopher W. Jones, Cade A. Herman, Celia V. Mayne, Camilo Fernandez, Katherine P. Theall, Kyle C. Esteves and Stacy S. Drury
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2022 20:153
  22. Preterm birth is defined as live birth before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy, and it is a major problem worldwide. The molecular mechanisms that lead to onset of spontaneous preterm birth are incompletely und...

    Authors: Heli Tiensuu, Antti M. Haapalainen, Pinja Tissarinen, Anu Pasanen, Tomi A. Määttä, Johanna M. Huusko, Steffen Ohlmeier, Ulrich Bergmann, Marja Ojaniemi, Louis J. Muglia, Mikko Hallman and Mika Rämet
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2022 20:141
  23. Obesity in pregnancy and related early-life factors place the offspring at the highest risk of being overweight. Despite convincing evidence on these associations, there is an unmet public health need to ident...

    Authors: Delphina Gomes, Lien Le, Sarah Perschbacher, Nikolaus A. Haas, Heinrich Netz, Uwe Hasbargen, Maria Delius, Kristin Lange, Uta Nennstiel, Adelbert A. Roscher, Ulrich Mansmann and Regina Ensenauer
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2022 20:156
  24. Preterm birth (PTB) is a syndrome resulting from a complex list of underlying causes and factors, and whether these risk factors differ in the context of prior PTB history is less understood. The aim of this s...

    Authors: Aline S. Rocha, Rita de Cássia Ribeiro-Silva, Rosemeire L. Fiaccone, Enny S. Paixao, Ila R. Falcão, Flavia Jôse O. Alves, Natanael J. Silva, Naiá Ortelan, Laura C. Rodrigues, Maria Yury Ichihara, Marcia F. de Almeida and Mauricio L. Barreto
    Citation: BMC Medicine 2022 20:111