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Role of one-carbon nutrient intake and diabetes during pregnancy in children's growth and neurodevelopment: A 2-year follow-up study of a prospective cohort.

Clinical Nutrition 2024 April 13
BACKGROUND & AIMS: Both maternal metabolic dysregulation, e.g., gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), and maternal supply of nutrients that participate in one-carbon (1C) metabolism, e.g., folate, choline, betaine, and vitamin B12 , have been demonstrated to influence epigenetic modification such as DNA methylation, thereby exerting long-lasting impacts on growth and development of offspring. This study aimed to determine how maternal 1C nutrient intake was associated with DNA methylation and further, development of children, as well as whether maternal GDM status modified the association in a prospective cohort.

METHODS: In this study, women with (n = 18) and without (n = 20) GDM were recruited at 25-33 weeks gestation. Detailed dietary intake data was collected by 3-day 24-h dietary recall and nutrient levels in maternal blood were also assessed at enrollment. The maternal-child dyads were invited to participate in a 2-year follow-up during which anthropometric measurement and the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Developmentā„¢ Screening Test (Third Edition) were conducted on children. The association between maternal 1C nutrients and children's developmental outcomes was analyzed with a generalized linear model controlling for maternal GDM status.

RESULTS: We found that children born to mothers with GDM had lower scores in the language domain of the Bayley test (p = 0.049). Higher maternal food folate and choline intakes were associated with better language scores in children (p = 0.01 and 0.025, respectively). Higher maternal food folate intakes were also associated with better cognitive scores in children (p = 0.002). Higher 1C nutrient intakes during pregnancy were associated with lower body weight of children at 2 years of age (p < 0.05). However, global DNA methylation of children's buccal cells was not associated with any maternal 1C nutrients.

CONCLUSIONS: In conclusion, higher 1C nutrient intake during pregnancy was associated with lower body weight and better neurodevelopmental outcomes of children. This may help overcome the lower language scores seen in GDM-affected children in this cohort. Studies in larger cohorts and with a longer follow-up duration are needed to further delineate the relationship between prenatal 1C nutrient exposure, especially in GDM-affected pregnancies, and offspring health outcomes.

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