Associations of cord blood leukocyte telomere length with adiposity growth from infancy to adolescence

Farah Qureshi, Izzuddin M. Aris, Sheryl L. Rifas-Shiman, Wei Perng, Emily Oken, Janet Rich-Edwards, Andres Cardenas, Andrea A. Baccarelli, Michelle Bosquet Enlow, Mandy B. Belfort, Henning Tiemeier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Leukocyte telomere length (LTL) may be a biomarker for chronic disease susceptibility, but no work has tested this hypothesis directly. Our study investigated associations of LTL at birth with markers of adiposity growth that are linked with cardiometabolic health later in life. Methods: Participants were 375 children in Project Viva (48% female, 71% White). Body mass index (BMI) trajectories from birth to 18 years were tracked using repeated measures of BMI collected in physical examinations and via medical records, then used to predict age (months) and magnitude (kg/m2) of BMI peak and rebound. LTL was measured from cord blood via duplex quantitative PCR. A binary variable indicating LTL shorter than the reference population average was the primary exposure. Results: LTL was unrelated to BMI at peak or rebound, but associations were apparent with the timing of BMI growth milestones. Short LTL was related to a later age of peak for females (β = 0.99, 95% CI = 0.16, 1.82; psex interaction = 0.015) and an earlier age of rebound for both males and females (βcombined = −5.26, 95% CI = −9.44, −1.08). Conclusion: LTL at birth may be an early biomarker of altered adiposity growth. Newborn telomere biology may shed new insight into the developmental origins of health and disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12977
JournalPediatric Obesity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • BMI peak
  • BMI rebound
  • adiposity
  • body mass index
  • developmental origins of disease
  • telomeres

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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