Do genetic risk scores for childhood adiposity operate independent of BMI of their mothers?

Lam O Huang, Camilla S Morgen, Lars Ängquist, Ellen A Nohr, Tuomas O Kilpeläinen, Torben Hansen, Thorkild I A Sørensen, Theresia M Schnurr


OBJECTIVES: Genetic predisposition and maternal body mass index (BMI) are risk factors for childhood adiposity, defined by either BMI or overweight. We aimed to investigate whether childhood-specific genetic risk scores (GRSs) for adiposity-related traits are associated with childhood adiposity independent of maternal BMI, or whether the associations are modified by maternal BMI.

METHODS: We constructed a weighted 26-SNP child BMI-GRS and a weighted 17-SNP child obesity-GRS in overall 1674 genotyped children within the Danish National Birth Cohort. We applied a case-cohort (N = 1261) and exposure-based cohort (N = 912) sampling design. Using logistic regression models we estimated associations of the GRSs and child overweight at age 7 years and examined if the GRSs influence child adiposity independent of maternal BMI (per standard deviation units).

RESULTS: In the case-cohort design analysis, maternal BMI and the child GRSs were associated with increased odds for childhood overweight [OR for maternal BMI: 2.01 (95% CI: 1.86; 2.17), OR for child BMI-GRS: 1.56 (95% CI: 1.47; 1.66), and OR for child obesity-GRS 1.46 (95% CI: 1.37; 1.54)]. Adjustment for maternal BMI did not change the results, and there were no significant interactions between the GRSs and maternal BMI. However, in the exposure-based cohort design analysis, significant interactions between the child GRSs and maternal BMI on child overweight were observed, suggesting 0.85-0.87-fold attenuation on ORs of child overweight at higher values of maternal BMI and child GRS.

CONCLUSION: GRSs for childhood adiposity are strongly associated with childhood adiposity even when adjusted for maternal BMI, suggesting that the child-specific GRSs and maternal BMI contribute to childhood overweight independent of each other. However, high maternal BMI may attenuate the effects of child GRSs in children.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational journal of obesity (2005)
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)2006-2015
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


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