Original Paper

European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 169, Issue 11, pp 1361-1368

First online:

Maternal prepregnancy body mass index in relation to Hispanic preschooler overweight/obesity

  • Panagiota KitsantasAffiliated withDepartment of Health Administration and Policy, College of Health and Human Services, George Mason University Email author 
  • , Lisa R. PawloskiAffiliated withDepartment of Global and Community Health, College of Health and Human Services, George Mason University
  • , Kathleen F. GaffneyAffiliated withCollege of Health and Human Services, School of Nursing, George Mason University

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The aim of the current study was to examine the role of maternal prepregnancy body mass index (BMI) on overweight/obesity among US Hispanic children ages 2 and 4 years old. We used US nationally representative data from preschoolers enrolled in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort study. The findings revealed that a significantly higher percent (41.6%) of Hispanic mothers were overweight/obese prior to pregnancy compared to white mothers (34.8%). At 2 years of age, 38.3% of the children born to Hispanic mothers were overweight/obese compared to 29.4% of children born to white mothers. By the age of 4, overweight/obesity increased significantly for both racial/ethnic groups with preschoolers whose mothers were Hispanic being more likely to be overweight/obese (44.6%) compared to children whose mothers were white (34.2%). Further, preschoolers born to overweight/obese Hispanic mothers were more than twice as likely [odds ratio = 2.74 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.60, 4.69)] to be overweight/obese than those born to Hispanic mothers of normal prepregnancy BMI. Preschoolers born to overweight/obese white mothers were approximately 1.4 (95% CI 1.05, 1.93) times more likely to be overweight/obese in comparison to those born to mothers with a normal prepregnancy BMI. Maternal prepregnancy weight is potentially a modifiable risk factor for preschooler overweight/obesity. Study findings support the design of early and targeted interventions to reduce this risk to the long-term health of Hispanic maternal and child dyads.


Prepregnancy BMI Racial and ethnic differences Preschooler obesity and overweight Preconception health