Higher newborn adiposity has been shown to predict childhood obesity. With maternal health being an important predictor of infant health, existing literature has suggested a link between maternal cortisol during pregnancy and infant adiposity. This relationship will be explored in a predominantly Hispanic cohort using quantitative magnetic resonance methods.


The Maternal and Developmental Risks from Environmental and Social Stressors (MADRES) Study is a pregnancy cohort of 1,000 predominantly lower-income Latina mothers living in urban Los Angeles. The mother and child pairs are followed longitudinally for 5 years. Fat and lean mass measurements are ongoing in infants at 1-month of age using The EchoMRI Adolescent Humans Body Composition Analyzer (n=13, 61.5% male, mean age 36.6 days, SD 8.8 days). The mothers (mean age 26.4 yrs, SD 6.3 yrs, 61.5% Hispanic) complete salivary cortisol collection over 1 day during their 3rd trimester of pregnancy and available data were used to calculate Area Under the Curve (AUC), Cortisol Awakening Response (CAR), and Diurnal Cortisol Slope (DCS).


Infant mean fat mass was 1.3 kg (SD 0.2) and mean lean mass was 2.7 kg (SD 0.3). A marginally significant inverse relationship was seen between CAR and lean mass after adjusting for gestational age at time of cortisol collection (β =-0.08 p=0.08), while AUC and DCS were not associated with infant body composition.


This preliminary analysis shows a marginally significant inverse relationship between CAR and lean mass in 1-month old infants, suggesting that maternal stress during pregnancy may affect the distribution of adiposity in infants.