Identifying Prenatal and Postnatal Determinants of Infant Growth: A Structural Equation Modelling Based Cohort Analysis

Kelly Morgan, Shang-Ming Zhou* (Corresponding Author), Rebecca Hill, Ronan A. Lyons, Shantini Paranjothy, Sinead Brophy

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: The growth and maturation of infants reflect their overall health and nutritional status. The purpose of this study is to examine the associations of prenatal and early postnatal factors with infant growth (IG); Methods: A data-driven model was constructed by structural equation modelling to examine the relationships between pre- and early postnatal environmental factors and IG at age 12 months. The IG was a latent variable created from infant weight and waist circumference. Data were obtained on 274 mother-child pairs during pregnancy and the postnatal periods; Results: Maternal pre-pregnancy BMI emerged as an important predictor of IG with both direct and indirect (mediated through infant birth weight) effects. Infants who gained more weight from birth to 6 months and consumed starchy foods daily at age 12 months, were more likely to be larger by age 12 months. Infant physical activity (PA) levels also emerged as a determinant. The constructed model provided a reasonable fit (χ2 25 (11) = 21.5, p < 0.05; RMSEA = 0.07; CFI = 26 0.94; SRMR = 0.05) to the data with significant pathways for all examined variables; Conclusion: Promoting healthy weight amongst women of child bearing age is important in preventing childhood obesity, and increasing daily infant PA is as important as a healthy infant diet.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10265
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number19
Early online date29 Sep 2021
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sep 2021


  • infant growth
  • structural equation modelling
  • pregnancy
  • public health
  • physical activity
  • paediatrics
  • obesity
  • postnatal development


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