Umbilical cord DNA methylation is associated with body mass index trajectories from birth to adolescence

Anat Yaskolka Meir, Wanyu Huang, Tingyi Cao, Xiumei Hong, Guoying Wang, Colleen Pearson, William G. Adams, Xiaobin Wang, Liming Liang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: DNA methylation (DNAm) in cord blood has been associated with various prenatal factors and birth outcomes. This study sought to fill an important knowledge gap: the link of cord DNAm with child postnatal growth trajectories from birth to age 18 years (y). Methods: Using data from a US predominantly urban, low-income, multi-ethnic birth cohort (N = 831), we first applied non-parametric methods to identify body-mass-index percentile (BMIPCT) trajectories from birth to age 18 y (the outcome); then, conducted epigenome-wide association study (EWAS) of the outcome, interrogating over 700,000 CpG sites profiled by the Illumina Infinium MethylationEPIC BeadChip. Multivariate linear regression models and likelihood ratio tests (LRT) were applied to examine the DNAm-outcome association in the overall sample and sex strata. Findings: We identified four distinct patterns of BMIPCT trajectories: normal weight (NW), Early overweight or obesity (OWO), Late OWO, and normal to very late OWO. DNAm at CpG18582997 annotated to TPGS1, CpG15241084 of TLR7, and cg24350936 of RAB31 were associated with BMIPCT at birth-to-3 y, 10 y, and 14 y, respectively (LRT FDR < 0.05 for all). Interpretation: In this prospective birth cohort study, we identified 4 distinct and robust patterns of growth trajectories from birth to 18 y, which were associated with variations in cord blood DNAm at genes implicated in inflammation induction pathways. These findings, if further replicated, raise the possibility that these DNAm markers along with early assessment of BMIPCT trajectories may help identify young children at high-risk for obesity later in life. Funding: Detailed in the Acknowledgements section.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104550
StatePublished - May 2023


  • BMI percentiles
  • Childhood obesity
  • Critical periods
  • Epigenetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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