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UNLABELLED: IGF-1 is a key growth factor during fetal life. Using DXA, we found that the concentration of IGF-1 in umbilical cord serum is strongly related to neonatal whole body bone mineral content, lean mass, and fat mass. However IGF-1 did not explain the relationships of maternal smoking, fat mass, and physical activity with neonatal bone mass. The study supports a direct role for circulating IGF-1 in growth of the fetal skeleton. INTRODUCTION: Evidence is accumulating that the risk of osteoporosis in later life may be determined in part by environmental influences during intrauterine and early postnatal life. We previously reported that maternal birthweight, smoking, fat stores, and physical activity during pregnancy predict neonatal bone mass. While the growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor 1 (GH/IGF-1) axis is an important determinant of postnatal skeletal growth, there are few data relating the concentration of growth factors in umbilical cord blood to bone mineral content (BMC) and other indices of body composition in the newborn infant. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We conducted a population-based study in a cohort of full-term, newborn infants whose mothers were characterized for lifestyle, body composition, and nutrition through their normal pregnancies. In a sample of 119 infants from the cohort, we related cord serum IGF-1 and insulin-like growth factor binding protein (IGFBP)-3 concentrations to neonatal body composition measured by DXA and evaluated the extent to which this cytokine mediates the previously reported effects of maternal diet and lifestyle on neonatal bone mass. RESULTS: There were strong positive associations between cord serum IGF-1 concentration and whole body BMC (r = 0.38, p < 0.001), whole body lean mass (r = 0.40, p < 0.001), and whole body fat mass (r = 0.50, p < 0.001) after adjusting for gestational age and sex. There was no association between cord serum IGF-1 and BMC adjusted for bone size. Neither cord serum IGF-1 nor IGFBP-3 explained the relationships that we previously reported between maternal influences and neonatal bone mass. CONCLUSIONS: Cord serum IGF-1 is more closely related to the size of the neonatal skeleton than to its degree of mineralization. Documented maternal determinants of neonatal bone mass seem to mediate their effects independently of variations in cord serum IGF-1 in healthy pregnancies.

Original publication




Journal article


J Bone Miner Res

Publication Date





56 - 63


Adult, Birth Weight, Body Composition, Body Height, Bone Density, Data Interpretation, Statistical, Exercise, Female, Fetal Blood, Gestational Age, Humans, Infant, Newborn, Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3, Insulin-Like Growth Factor I, Male, Maternal Behavior, Placenta, Pregnancy, Skinfold Thickness, Smoking