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Maternal metabolic adaptations to pregnancy among young women in Cebu, Philippines – Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey

Maternal metabolic adaptations to pregnancy among young women in Cebu, Philippines


Fried, R. L.; Mayol, N. L.; McDade, T. W.; & Kuzawa, C. W. (2017). Maternal metabolic adaptations to pregnancy among young women in Cebu, Philippines. American Journal of Human Biology, 29(5).


OBJECTIVES: Evidence that fetal development has long-term impacts on health has increased interest in maternal-fetal nutrient exchange. Although maternal metabolism is known to change during gestation to accommodate fetal nutrient demands, little is known about these modifications outside of a Western, clinical context. This study characterizes maternal metabolic adaptations to pregnancy, and their associations with offspring birth weight (BW), among women living in the Philippines. METHODS: Fasting glucose, triglycerides, insulin, leptin, and adiponectin were assessed in 808 participants in the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey (Metropolitan Cebu, Philippines). Cross-sectional relationships between metabolites and hormones and gestational and lactational status were evaluated. Among the subset of currently pregnant women, associations between maternal glucose and triglycerides and offspring BW were also examined. RESULTS: Women in their second and third trimesters had significantly lower fasting glucose and adiponectin compared to nulliparous women, and leptin levels and triglyceride levels were notably higher late in pregnancy (all P < .05). Among pregnant women, fasting glucose was a positive predictor of offspring BW, but only in males (P = .012, R2 = .28). Hormones and metabolites in post-partum women trend back toward levels found in nulliparous women, with some differences by breastfeeding status. CONCLUSIONS: We find evidence for marked changes in maternal lipid and carbohydrate metabolism during pregnancy, consistent with known adaptations to support fetal growth. The finding of sex-specific relationships between maternal glucose and offspring BW adds to evidence for greater impacts of the maternal-gestational environment on biology and health in male offspring.



Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

American Journal of Human Biology


Fried, R. L.
Mayol, N. L.
McDade, T. W.
Kuzawa, C. W.