16 February 2015
Despite increased interest in promoting nutrition during pregnancy, the association between maternal dietary patterns and birth outcomes has been equivocal. We examined maternal dietary patterns during pregnancy as a determinant of offspring’s birth weight-for-length (WLZ), weight-for-age (WAZ), length-for-age (LAZ), and head circumference (HCZ) Z-scores in Southern United States ( n = 1151). Maternal diet during pregnancy was assessed by seven dietary patterns. Multivariable linear regression models described the association of WLZ, WAZ, LAZ, and HCZ with diet patterns controlling for other maternal and child characteristics. In bivariate analyses, WAZ and HCZ were significantly lower for processed and processed-Southern compared to healthy dietary patterns, whereas LAZ was significantly higher for these patterns. In the multivariate models, mothers who consumed a healthy-processed dietary pattern had children with significantly higher HCZ compared to the ones who consumed a healthy dietary pattern (HCZ β: 0.36; p = 0.019). No other dietary pattern was significantly associated with any of the birth outcomes. Instead, the major outcome determinants were: African American race, pre-pregnancy BMI, and gestational weight gain. These findings justify further investigation about socio-environmental and genetic factors related to race and birth outcomes in this population.