Maternal diet and offspring telomere length: a systematic review

Nahal Habibi, Tina Bianco-Miotto, Yan Yin Phoi, Tanja Jankovic-Karasoulos, Claire T. Roberts, Jessica A. Grieger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


CONTEXT: Many studies assert a negative influence of inappropriate maternal diet and nutritional status during pregnancy on offspring, not only in utero but throughout life, because of the role in the programing of noncommunicable diseases. Telomere length is a biomarker of aging, and shorter telomeres are associated with chronic disease later in life. Maternal nutrition and nutritional status may be an important determinant of offspring telomere length. OBJECTIVE: A systematic review was conducted to determine the effect of maternal nutrition and nutritional status in pregnancy on offspring telomere length. DATA SOURCES: This systematic review was conducted according to PRISMA guidelines. Database searches of PubMed, CINAHL, Scopus, Medline, and Web of Science were performed. STUDY SELECTION: Included studies assessed the association between maternal nutrition (dietary intake and nutritional status) during pregnancy and offspring telomere length measured in cord blood, serum, plasma, and peripheral blood mononuclear cells. DATA EXTRACTION: Three authors screened and determined the quality of the articles; disagreements were resolved by a fourth author. All authors compared the compiled data. RESULTS: Seven studies were extracted and evaluated. Studies comprised a double-blind placebo-controlled trial (n = 1), prospective cohort studies (n = 5), and a cross-sectional study (n = 1). Higher circulating maternal folate and 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 concentrations, along with higher maternal dietary caffeine intakes, were associated with longer offspring telomere length, whereas higher dietary intake of carbohydrate, folate, n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin C, or sodium was not. CONCLUSION: The limited but suggestive evidence highlights the need for further research to be conducted in this area, particularly longitudinal studies involving larger cohorts of pregnant women. SYSTEMATIC REVIEW REGISTRATION: PROSPERO registration no. CRD42019136506.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-159
Number of pages12
JournalNutrition reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


  • cord blood
  • folate
  • maternal diet
  • maternal nutritional status
  • offspring
  • pregnancy
  • telomere length
  • vitamin D


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