Effects of Nutritional Supplementation during Pregnancy on Early Adult Disease Risk: Follow Up of Offspring of Participants in a Randomised Controlled Trial Investigating Effects of Supplementation on Infant Birth Weight

John Macleod*, Lie Tang, F. D. Richard Hobbs, Brian Wharton, Roger Holder, Shakir Hussain, Linda Nichols, Paul Stewart, Penny Clark, Steve Luzio, Jeffrey M P Holly, George Davey Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Observational evidence suggests that improving fetal growth may improve adult health. Experimental evidence from nutritional supplementation trials undertaken amongst pregnant women in the less developed world does not show strong or consistent effects on adult disease risk and no trials from the more developed world have previously been reported.

OBJECTIVE: To test the hypothesis that nutritional supplementation during pregnancy influences offspring disease risk in adulthood.

DESIGN: Clinical assessment of a range of established diseases risk markers in young adult offspring of 283 South Asian mothers who participated in two trials of nutritional supplementation during pregnancy (protein/energy/vitamins; energy/vitamins or vitamins only) at Sorrento Maternity Hospital in Birmingham UK either unselected or selected on the basis of nutritional status.

RESULTS: 236 (83%) offspring were traced and 118 (50%) of these were assessed in clinic. Protein/energy/vitamins supplementation amongst undernourished mothers was associated with increased infant birthweight. Nutritional supplementation showed no strong association with any one of a comprehensive range of markers of adult disease risk and no consistent pattern of association with risk across markers in offspring of either unselected or undernourished mothers.

CONCLUSIONS: We found no evidence that nutritional supplements given to pregnant women are an important influence on adult disease risk however our study lacked power to estimate small effects. Our findings do not provide support for a policy of nutritional supplementation for pregnant women as an effective means to improve adult health in more developed societies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number83371
Number of pages15
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2013


  • Adult
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Eating
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamins

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