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Khouja JN;Simpkin AJ;O'Keeffe LM;Wade KH;Houtepen LC;Relton CL;Suderman M;Howe LD;
Clinical Epigenetics
Epigenetic gestational age acceleration: a prospective cohort study investigating associations with familial, sociodemographic and birth characteristics.
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Gestational age at delivery is associated with health and social outcomes. Recently, cord blood DNA methylation data has been used to predict gestational age. The discrepancy between gestational age predicted from DNA methylation and determined by ultrasound or last menstrual period is known as gestational age acceleration. This study investigated associations of sex, socioeconomic status, parental behaviours and characteristics and birth outcomes with gestational age acceleration. Using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (n¿=¿863), we found that pre-pregnancy maternal overweight and obesity were associated with greater gestational age acceleration (mean difference¿=¿1.6 days, 95% CI 0.7 to 2.6, and 2.9 days, 95% CI 1.3 to 4.4, respectively, compared with a body mass index <¿25 kg/m2, p¿<¿.001). There was evidence of an association between male sex and greater gestational age acceleration. Greater gestational age acceleration was associated with higher birthweight, birth length and head circumference of the child (mean differences per week higher gestational age acceleration: birthweight 0.1 kg, 95% CI 0.1 to 0.2, p¿<¿.001; birth length 0.4 cm, 95% CI 0.2 to 0.7, p¿<¿.001; head circumference 0.2 cm, 95% CI 0.1 to -¿0.4, p¿<¿.001). There was evidence of an association between gestational age acceleration and mode of delivery (assisted versus unassisted delivery, odds ratio¿=¿0.9 per week higher gestational age acceleration, 95% CI 0.7, 1.3 (p¿=¿.05); caesarean section versus unassisted delivery, odds ratio¿=¿0.6, 95% CI 0.4 to 0.9 per week higher gestational age acceleration (p¿=¿.05)). There was no evidence of association for other parental and perinatal characteristics. The associations of higher maternal body mass index and larger birth size with greater gestational age acceleration may imply that maternal overweight and obesity is associated with more rapid development of the fetus in utero. The implications of gestational age acceleration for postnatal health warrant further investigation.
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