Open Access Open Badges Research

Maternal low glycaemic index diet, fat intake and postprandial glucose influences neonatal adiposity – secondary analysis from the ROLO study

Mary K Horan1, Ciara A McGowan1, Eileen R Gibney2, Jean M Donnelly1 and Fionnuala M McAuliffe1*

Author Affiliations

1 UCD Obstetrics and Gynaecology, School of Medicine and Medical Science, University College Dublin, National Maternity Hospital, Dublin 2, Ireland

2 Science Centre – South, University College Dublin School Of Agriculture & Food Science, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland

For all author emails, please log on.

Nutrition Journal 2014, 13:78  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-78

Published: 1 August 2014



The in utero environment is known to affect fetal development however many of the mechanisms by which this occurs remain unknown. The aim of this study was to examine the association between maternal dietary macronutrient intake and lifestyle throughout pregnancy and neonatal weight and adiposity.


This was an analysis of 542 mother and infant pairs from the ROLO study (Randomised cOntrol trial of LOw glycaemic index diet versus no dietary intervention to prevent recurrence of fetal macrosomia). Food diaries as well as food frequency and lifestyle and physical activity questionnaires were completed during pregnancy. Maternal anthropometry was measured throughout pregnancy and neonatal anthropometry was measured at birth.


Multiple linear regression analysis revealed the main maternal factor associated with increased birth weight was greater gestational weight gain R2adj23.3% (F = 11.547, p < 0.001). The main maternal factor associated with increased birth length was non-smoking status R2adj27.8% (F = 6.193, p < 0.001). Neonatal central adiposity (determined using waist:length ratio) was negatively associated with maternal age, and positively associated with the following parameters: smoking status, maternal pre-pregnancy arm circumference, percentage energy from saturated fat in late pregnancy, postprandial glucose at 28 weeks gestation and membership of the control group with a positive trend towards association with trimester 2 glycaemic load R2adj 38.1% (F = 8.000, p < 0.001).


Several maternal diet and lifestyle factors were associated with neonatal anthropometry . Low glycaemic index dietary intervention in pregnancy was found to have a beneficial effect on neonatal central adiposity. Additionally, central adiposity was positively associated with maternal dietary fat intake and postprandial glucose highlighting the important role of healthy diet in pregnancy in promoting normal neonatal adiposity.

Trial registration

Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN54392969.

Maternal diet; Pregnancy; Neonatal body composition; Neonatal adiposity; Low glycaemic index diet