Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Little Rock, Arkansas » Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #373563

Research Project: Impact of Maternal Influence and Early Dietary Factors on Child Growth, Development, and Metabolic Health

Location: Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center

Title: Dietary protein intake during pregnancy is not associated with offspring insulin sensitivity

Author
item ALLMAN, BRITTANY - Arkansas Children'S Nutrition Research Center (ACNC)
item WILLIAMS, D. KEITH - Arkansas Children'S Nutrition Research Center (ACNC)
item BORSHEIM, ELISABET - University Arkansas For Medical Sciences (UAMS)
item ANDRES, ALINE - Arkansas Children'S Nutrition Research Center (ACNC)

Submitted to: Nutrients
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/2/2020
Publication Date: 5/8/2020
Citation: Allman, B.R., Williams, D., Borsheim, E., Andres, A. 2020. Dietary protein intake during pregnancy is not associated with offspring insulin sensitivity. Nutrients. 12(5):1338. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12051338.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12051338

Interpretive Summary: During pregnancy, the mother's body generally becomes more resistant to the effects of insulin (a hormone responsible for storage of nutrients). In a previous publication we showed that both total protein intake and plant protein intake (e.g., soy, vegetables) during pregnancy were negatively associated with the body's insulin resistance, i.e., as total and/or plant protein increased, insulin resistance decreased. Further, there was no association between dietary animal protein intake (e.g., chicken, steak) and insulin resistance. As a follow-up to this study, and because of the increasing awareness about the importance of the first 1,000 days of life (the effect of nutrition on the offspring from the time that they are in the womb until ~2 years old), we wanted to determine if there was a relationship between maternal protein intake during pregnancy and offspring insulin resistance in early years (12 months, 24 months). Ultimately, it was found that total dietary protein intake (adjusted for plant protein intake, maternal obesity status, and offspring body fat percentage) during early pregnancy, late pregnancy, and the average throughout pregnancy was not related to offspring insulin sensitivity at either 12 months or 24 months. These findings are significant because they contribute to the growing body of research describing the impact of maternal nutrition on offspring health and development. These findings contribute to the scientific evidence base that is relevant for pregnancy dietary recommendations and policy. Specifically, these results indicate that the amount and type of protein consumed during pregnancy is not related to early offspring insulin resistance.

Technical Abstract: Literature describing a relationship between maternal dietary protein intake during pregnancy and offspring measures of insulin resistance are equivocal perhaps because of the lapse between maternal and offspring measurements (~9-40 years). This relationship is particularly important to elucidate because of the potent influence of the maternal environment on offspring health. We evaluated protein intake in healthy women [n=182, mean+/-SD; body mass index (BMI): 26.2+/-4.2 kg/m2] in early pregnancy (8.4 +/- 1.6 weeks, EP), late pregnancy (30.1 +/- 0.4 weeks, LP), and averaged throughout pregnancy, and determined the relationship between protein intake and offspring homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA2-IR) at 12 (12mo) and 24 (24mo) months. EP protein did not associate with HOMA2-IR at 12mo (B=0.153, p=0.429) or 24mo (B=-0.349, p=0.098). LP protein did not associate with offspring HOMA2-IR at 12mo (B=0.023, p=0.916) or 24mo (B=-0.442, p=0.085). Finally, average protein did not associate with offspring HOMA2-IR at 12mo (B=00711, p=0.05) or 24mo B=-0.445, p=0.294). Results remained unchanged after adjusting for plant protein intake quartiles during pregnancy, maternal BMI, and offspring sex and body fat percentage. Protein intake during pregnancy is not associated with indirect measurements of insulin sensitivity in offspring during the first two years of life.