Maternal Pre-Pregnancy BMI Linked to Regulation of Body Weight in Offspring Interview with:


Dr. Spann

Marisa N. Spann, PhD, MPH
Columbia University Irving Medical Center
New York, New York What is the background for this study?

Response: Prior research has demonstrated that higher maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index is associated with adverse long-term outcomes for offspring including obesity, poorer cognitive and social abilities, and increased risk of psychiatric disorders. What are the main findings?

Response: In this study, we investigated the association of maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index with fetal growth and neonatal functional connectivity and found that maternal pre-pregnancy BMI has a significant positive correlation with fetal weight and with greater thalamic connectivity of the brain. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our results suggest that maternal pre-pregnancy BMI is involved in the development of regulation of body weight and thalamic functional brain connectivity in offspring even during fetal development. Our finding is similar to adult human studies using resting state imaging data and with rodent electrophysiological studies that report an association of BMI with thalamic connectivity, and it is consistent with recent findings suggesting thalamic involvement in food intake, weight control, and reward processing. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? 

Response: Future studies that include measures of infant nutrition and feeding at the same age that neuroimaging data are collected could elucidate brain-behavioral associations that could inform nutrition/feeding interventions. These targeted studies could focus on areas brain areas involved in regulating nutrient intake and satiety signals and subsequently supporting optimal long-term infant cognitive, social, and behavioral capacities.


Spann MN, Scheinost D, Feng T, et al. Association of Maternal Prepregnancy Body Mass Index With Fetal Growth and Neonatal Thalamic Brain Connectivity Among Adolescent and Young Women. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(11):e2024661. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.24661


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Last Updated on November 5, 2020 by Marie Benz MD FAAD