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Birth weight and body composition in 6-to-8 years old Maya children

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journal contribution
posted on 23.11.2020, 11:30 by Hugo Azcorra, Ines Varela-SilvaInes Varela-Silva, Federico Dickinson
Objective: To test the hypothesis that fetal growth, indexed by birth weight (BW), induce metabolic adjustments in the fetus that will be reflected in differences in body composition in a sample of 6-to 8-years old urban Maya children from Yucatan, Mexico.
Methods: We measured height (cm), weight (kg) and triceps skinfold (mm) in 260 children (boys: 132, girls: 128), and height (cm) and weight (kg) in their mothers. Body composition was estimated in children through bioelectrical impedance analysis. Outcome variables were fat free-mass index (FFMI= fat-free mass [kg]/height [m]2) and fat mass index (FMI= fat mass [kg]/height [m]2). The main independent variable was BW z-scores. Multiple linear regression models were used to analyze the association between BW z-scores and outcome variables measured during childhood. Separate analyses were done for boys and girls. Complementary models were run using outcomes as z-scores. Models were adjusted for location, children’s and mothers’ age, mother’s body mass index and household overcrowding index.
Results: BW in boys was positively associated with FFMI and FMI. FFMI increase 0.34 kg/m2 per 1-SD increase in BW and FMI increase 0.40 kg/m2 per 1-SD increase in BW. When outcomes were used as z-scores, FFMI increase 0.24 SD and FMI increase 0.18 SD per 1-SD increase in BW, respectively.
Conclusion Our results are in contrast with previous findings that birth weight is more consistently associated with subsequent lean mass than with fat mass. Associations, detected only in boys, may be explained by sex differences in sensitivity to early life environments.


The data reported here were collected as part of a project funded by the National Science and Technology Council of Mexico; Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología de México (Conacyt). Contract grant number: 168047.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

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American Journal of Human Biology








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This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: AZCORRA, H., VARELA-SILVA, M.I. and DICKINSON, F., 2020. Birth weight and body composition in 6‐to‐8 years old Maya children. American Journal of Human Biology, 33(6): e23542, doi: 10.1002/ajhb.23542, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.

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Dr Ines Varela Silva. Deposit date: 19 November 2020

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