Postprandial Triglycerides Predict Newborn Fat More Strongly than Glucose in Women with Obesity in Early Pregnancy

Linda A. Barbour Sarah S. Farabi Jacob E. Friedman Nicole M. Hirsch Melanie S. Reece Rachael E. Van Pelt Teri L. Hernandez

Obesity, 2018

Dr. Lynn Barbour, and the Infant GOLD Team, recently published an article in the Journal of Obesity. This article was selected as Editor's Choice and uses data collected from mothers who participated in the Fetal Programming Study.

 The purpose of the Fetal Programming Study was to better understand how glucose and fats within the blood changed during pregnancy and how this affects infant growth. The main focus was how glucose and fats relate to the percent body fat of a newborn. This is important to look at because babies born with a higher amount of body fat may have an increased risk of developing obesity and pre-diabetes as children or adolescents.

 Higher newborn fat mass is thought to be caused by over-nutrition. To catch potential over-nutrition to the baby,  pregnant women take a glucose tolerance test to assess if they have high blood sugars. If there is to much sugar (glucose) within the blood, the baby is exposed to over-nutrition. Those who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes (high blood sugars in pregnancy) rigorously monitor their blood sugars to ensure the baby is not exposed to too much nutrition. Up to 20% of pregnancies are complicated by gestational diabetes.

 Main Results of the Study:

  • The amount of triglycerides in your blood goes up as pregnancy progresses

    • Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in your body. They are created using the fat in your diet and any extra calories that your body doesn't need (like those from carbohydrates). Learn more about triglycerides here

  • Mothers with a higher body weight for height had higher amounts of triglycerides in their blood before and after eating than mothers who had a healthy weight for height

  • For the higher body weight mothers, the strongest predictor of newborn fat mass was the amount of triglycerides in the blood after a meal early in their pregnancy

  • For the healthy body weight mothers, the strongest predictor of newborn fat mass was how much their triglycerides increased from early in pregnancy to late in pregnancy.

  • The mother's blood sugar (glucose) levels did not significantly contribute to newborn fat mass

 What could these results mean?

Post-meal triglyceride levels could be an important contributor to infant growth. This would mean potentially having mothers monitor their triglycerides, similar to how they monitor their glucose levels. More research is needed to determine if monitoring and lowering post-meal triglycerides improves newborn fat mass.

 Overall, this research supports that a healthy, balanced diet is important in early and late pregnancy. For more information on health eating in pregnancy please visit  

What to know how the study was done? click the article title to read the original article

A cautionary response to SMFM statement: pharmacological treatment of gestational diabetes

Linda Barbour, et al

American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2018

Changing Perspectives in pre-existing diabetes and obesity in pregnancy: Maternal and infant short- and long-term outcomes

Linda Barbour

Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Obesity, 2014

   Climbing obesity in women have propelled the increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in pregnancy, and an increasing number of women with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) are also affected by obesity. Increasing recognition that an intrauterine environment characterized by obesity, insulin resistance, nutrient excess, and diabetes may be fueling the obesity epidemic in children has created enormous pressure to re-examine the conventional wisdom of our current approaches.

Unresolved Controversies in Gestational Diabetes: Implications on Maternal and Fetal Health

Linda Barbour

Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Obesity, 2014

        Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a major public health concern because of rising rates and offspring consequences; yet, expert panels are in complete disagreement on how to diagnose and optimally treat GDM. This review underscores why there remains no diagnostic standard, no agreement on whether excess dietary carbohydrate or fat should be reduced, and whether oral hypoglycemic therapy is safe given the unknown offspring effects on hepatic, pancreatic, or fat development.