Plant-based diets continue to rise in popularity, including among women of reproductive age, while consequences for pregnancy outcomes have hardly been studied. During pregnancy, maternal diet is the only source of proteins for the developing fetus. Hence, we investigated the effects of periconceptional maternal animal and plant protein intake on prenatal growth and birthweight. 501 pregnancies were included from the prospective Rotterdam Periconceptional Cohort. Embryonic growth was depicted by crown-rump length (CRL) and embryonic volume (EV) at 7, 9 and 11 weeks using 3D ultrasound scans. Estimated fetal weight (EFW) at 20 weeks and birthweight were retrieved from medical records and standardized. Multivariable mixed models were used for CRL and EV trajectories, and linear regression for EFW and birthweight. A 10 g/day higher maternal animal protein intake was positively associated with increased embryonic growth (CRL: β = 0.023 √mm, p = 0.052; EV: β = 0.015 ∛cm, p = 0.012). A positive association, albeit non-significant, was found between maternal animal protein intake and EFW, and birthweight. No clear associations emerged between maternal plant protein intake and prenatal growth and birthweight, with effect estimates close to zero. In conclusion, maternal animal protein intake during the periconception period was positively associated with early and late prenatal growth and birthweight, while no associations were found between maternal plant protein intake and prenatal growth and birthweight.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Department of Clinical Chemistry of the Erasmus MC, University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The APC was funded by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Department of Clinical Chemistry of the Erasmus MC, University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
© 2022 by the authors.