The metabolic syndrome in pregnancy and its association with child telomere length

Dale McAninch, Tina Bianco-Miotto, Kathy L. Gatford, Shalem Y. Leemaqz, Prabha H. Andraweera, Amy Garrett, Michelle D. Plummer, Gus A. Dekker, Claire T. Roberts, Lisa G. Smithers, Jessica A. Grieger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Aims/hypothesis: The aim of this study was to determine whether presence of the metabolic syndrome in pregnancy associates with child telomere length or child anthropometry (weight, BMI) and BP, measured at 10 years of age. Methods: The Screening for Pregnancy Endpoints study (SCOPE) was a multicentre, international prospective cohort of nulliparous pregnant women recruited from Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the UK (N = 5628). The current analysis is a 10 year follow-up of SCOPE pregnant women and their children, from the Australian cohort. Clinical data collected at 14–16 weeks’ gestation during the SCOPE study were used to diagnose the metabolic syndrome using IDF criteria. Telomere length, a biomarker of ageing, was assessed by quantitative PCR from children’s saliva collected at 10 years of age. Results: In women who completed follow-up (n = 255), 20% had the metabolic syndrome in pregnancy. After adjusting for a range of confounders, children of mothers who had the metabolic syndrome in pregnancy had 14% shorter telomeres than children of mothers without the metabolic syndrome in pregnancy (mean difference −0.36 [95% CI −0.74, 0.01]). Height- and weight-for-age, and BMI z scores were similar in children of mothers who did and did not have the metabolic syndrome during pregnancy. Conclusions/interpretation: Children of mothers who had the metabolic syndrome in pregnancy have shorter telomeres, a biomarker of accelerated ageing. These findings warrant further studies in larger cohorts of children, as well as investigations into whether telomere length measured in cord blood associates with telomere length in childhood. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2140-2149
Number of pages10
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Cardiovascular
  • Children
  • Developmental programming
  • Maternal
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Offspring
  • Pregnancy
  • Telomere length


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