Am J Epidemiol 2018 07;187(7):1362-1369
Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, Oakland, California.
Early puberty is associated with adverse health outcomes. We investigated whether in utero exposure to maternal obesity is associated with daughters' pubertal timing using 15,267 racially/ethnically diverse Kaiser Permanente Northern California members aged 6-11 years with pediatrician-assessed Tanner staging (2003-2017). We calculated maternal body mass index (BMI; weight (kg)/height (m)2) during pregnancy from the electronic health record data. Using a proportional hazards model with interval censoring, we examined the associations between maternal obesity and girls' pubertal timing, as well as effect modification by race/ethnicity and mediation by prepubertal BMI. Maternal obesity (BMI ≥30) and overweight (BMI 25-29.9) were associated with earlier onset of breast development in girls (hazard ratio (HR) = 1.39 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.30, 1.49) and HR = 1.21 (95% CI: 1.13, 1.29), respectively), after adjustment for girl's race/ethnicity, maternal age, education, parity, and smoking during pregnancy. There was interaction by race/ethnicity for associations between maternal obesity and girls' pubic hair onset: Associations were strongest among Asian and non-Hispanic white girls (HR = 1.53 (95% CI: 1.24, 1.90) and HR = 1.34 (95% CI: 1.18, 1.52), respectively) and absent for African-American girls. Adjustment for girl's prepubertal BMI only slightly attenuated associations. Our results suggest the importance of maternal metabolic factors during pregnancy in the timing of girls' puberty and potential differences in the associations by race/ethnicity.