The Influence of Maternal Age and Birth Order on Offspring Growth and Development

Haley Cook, Department of Animal Science, North Carolina State University, 120 W Broughton Drive, Raleigh, NC 27607. Dr. Christopher A. Schmitt, Department of Anthropology, Boston University, 232 Bay State Road # 105, Boston, MA 02215. Dr. Ellen E. Quillen, Department of Internal Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine, 475 Vine Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101.

This study investigated how maternal traits impact offspring growth and development. A greater understanding of the influence of these maternal effects could lead to improved knowledge of factors that contribute to age-related and obesity-related chronic diseases. Data from 6,340 baboons in an outbred colony at the Southwest National Primate Research Center was analyzed retrospectively. We compared adult body weight, HbA1c levels, adult crown to rump length, and growth trajectories to four different maternal factors: pregnant maternal weight, non-pregnant maternal weight, maternal age at birth, and birth order of offspring. HbA1c or hemoglobin A1c levels are a measure of blood sugar and can be used to check for diabetes. Linear regression of offspring versus maternal traits was performed in R. Males and females were analyzed separately due to the substantial sexual dimorphism in baboons. Overall, the results revealed several statistically significant correlations between the maternal traits and the offspring variables, which were determined by p-values less than 0.05. For both the male and female baboons, offspring adult body weight increased with birth order (< 2.2e-16 and R= 0.05), and faster growth of offspring increased with birth order (p = 0.04, R= 0.008 for females, and p = 0.03, R= 0.03 for males). In addition, older maternal age at birth was associated with heavier offspring adult body weight (= 1.5e-11, R2 = 0.02 for females, and p = 6.2e-8, R= 0.02 for males). Specific to males, faster growth of offspring increased with maternal age at birth (= 0.004 and R2 = 0.07). As demonstrated by the results of this study, several maternal effects influence offspring growth and development. This suggests that intrauterine environment or other aspects of the early life environment may be critical in understanding metabolic health. 

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Haley Cook

Institution: NC State University

Type: Poster

Subject: Health & Human Development

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 7
Date/Time: Tue 3:30pm-4:30pm
Session Number: 5121