Maternal body mass index in pregnancy and mental disorders in adult offspring: a record linkage study in Aberdeen, Scotland

Marius Lahti-Pulkkinen* (Corresponding Author), Katri Räikkönen, Sohinee Bhattacharya, Rebecca M. Reynolds

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Maternal obesity in pregnancy predicts offspring psychopathology risk in childhood but it remains unclear whether maternal obesity or underweight associate with adult offspring mental disorders. We examined longitudinally whether maternal body mass index (BMI) in pregnancy predicted mental disorders in her offspring and whether the associations differed by offspring birth year among 68,571 mother–child dyads of Aberdeen Maternity and Neonatal Databank, Scotland. The offspring were born 1950–1999. Maternal BMI was measured at a mean 15.7 gestational weeks and classified into underweight, normal weight, overweight, moderate obesity and severe obesity. Mental disorders were identified from nationwide registers carrying diagnoses of all hospitalizations and deaths in Scotland in 1996–2017. We found that maternal BMI in pregnancy was associated with offspring mental disorders in a time-dependent manner: In offspring born 1950–1974, maternal underweight predicted an increased hazard of mental disorders [Hazard Ratio (HR) = 1.74; 95% Confidence Interval (CI) = 1.01–3.00)]. In offspring born 1975–1999, maternal severe obesity predicted increased hazards of any mental (HR 1.60; 95% CI 1.08–2.38) substance use (HR 1.91; 95% CI 1.03–3.57) and schizophrenia spectrum (HR 2.80; 95% CI 1.40–5.63) disorders. Our findings of time-specific associations between maternal prenatal BMI and adult offspring mental disorders may carry important public health implications by underlining possible lifelong effects of maternal BMI on offspring psychopathology.
Original languageEnglish
Article number15132
Number of pages13
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2021


  • endocrinology
  • epidemiology
  • medical research
  • psychology
  • risk factors


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