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The Associations of Maternal Pre-Pregnancy Body Mass Index with Pregnancy and Infant Gut Microbiome (Michigan Study)

Written by
Dr Fathalla Ali, PHD Paediatrics


This study was conducted by researchers from Michigan State University to investigate the association between BMI before pregnancy and gut microbiota in late pregnancy (mothers) and early infancy (babies).

  • Researchers investigated 39 paired samples (dyads) with both a pregnancy and an infancy sample.
    The pregnant women were classified by pre-pregnancy BMI categories of normal (18.5 ≤ BMI < 25), overweight (25 ≤ BMI < 30) or obese (BMI ≥ 30).
  • Gut microbiota was investigated during the third trimester for the mothers and during the first week of life for their infants.
  • The bacterial communities’ structure of overweight women differed by BMI category.
  • The mothers who were overweight before pregnancy had lower diversity than those of women were normal weight or obese prior to becoming pregnant.
  • Mothers who were overweight before pregnancy had higher colonization rate of Bacteroides than women who were normal weight or obese before becoming pregnant.
  • This difference could be due to diet, lifestyle or excessive gestational weight gain.
  • Infants microbiota were found to be affected by maternal characteristic and environmental influences such as mode of delivery, feeding and pre-pregnancy BMI.
  • Bifidobacteria was found higher among vaginally-born infants in overweight women but not obese women. This was attributed to 80% of vaginally born infants of overweight women and 33.3% of vaginally born infants of obese women were exclusively human milk fed.
  • In previous research, infants born to obese women, could be at greater risk for allergies, overweight, obesity and other chronic disease irrespective of mode of delivery. Therefore, breastfeeding plays a significant role to alter microbiota and reduce the risk of allergies, overweight/obesity in later life. 

Keywords: Pre-pregnancy body mass index, BMI, gut microbiota, Pregnant women, overweight women, obese women


Sugino, K. Y., Paneth, N., & Comstock, S. S. (2019). Michigan cohorts to determine associations of maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index with pregnancy and infant gastrointestinal microbial communities: Late pregnancy and early infancy. PloS one, 14(3), e0213733. Click here

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