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Third trimester cortisol is positively associated with gestational weight gain in pregnant women with class one obesity.

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE: Prevalence of pre-pregnancy obesity and excessive gestational weight gain (GWG) are higher among women of color with low SES. Dysregulation of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis and its end-product, cortisol, during pregnancy is hypothesized to be associated with excessive GWG. However, past studies have produced inconsistent findings and often did not include health disparities populations. This study examined the association between pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI), third trimester diurnal cortisol, and GWG in low-income, predominantly Hispanic women. SUBJECTS/METHODS: The MADRES study is an ongoing prospective cohort study of primarily Hispanic, low-income pregnant women and their children in Los Angeles, California. Data from 176 participants were included in this study. Total cortisol secretion (area under the curve, AUC) was quantified using four salivary cortisol samples (awakening, 30 min after awakening, afternoon, and bedtime) that were collected at home on one day during the third trimester of pregnancy. Moderation of the association between total cortisol and GWG by pre-pregnancy BMI was tested using multiple linear regression with a multiplicative interaction term. RESULTS: There was no association between total cortisol secretion and GWG overall (p = 0.82), but the association between total cortisol and GWG was stronger for women with class 1 pre-pregnancy obesity compared to women with normal pre-pregnancy BMI (interaction term p = 0.04). CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that obesity status before pregnancy may be exacerbating the physiological impact of cortisol on GWG.

Authors: Naya, Christine H; Toledo-Corral, Claudia M; Chavez, Thomas; Lerner, Deborah; Lurvey, Nathana; Eckel, Sandrah P; Peterson, Alicia K; Grubbs, Brendan H; Dunton, Genevieve F; Breton, Carrie V; Bastain, Theresa M

Int J Obes (Lond). 2022 Feb;46(2):366-373. doi: 10.1038/s41366-021-01009-8. Epub 2021 Oct 30.

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