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BACKGROUND:Previous intergenerational (parent to child) and transgenerational (grandparent to grandchild) studies have shown there is a link between parental and offspring birthweight. OBJECTIVES:The aim was to explore the association between the early-life weight gain of an individual and the adult height of their children and grandchildren. METHODS:Study participants across three generations of the Hertfordshire Cohort Study (HCS) were included in this study. Health visitors recorded the birthweight (kg) and weight at 1 year (kg) of the original (F0 generation) HCS participants when they were born in Hertfordshire between 1931 and 1939. A conditional infant weight gain score for F0 participants was calculated using birthweight and weight at 1 year, and self-reported height (cm) of their children (F1 generation) and their grandchildren (F2 generation) was obtained from postal questionnaires. Due to the lack of clustering within family lines, linear regression analysis was used to compare intergenerational relationships. RESULTS:Data were available from 139 F0, 148 F1, and 198 F2 participants. A positive association was found between parental birthweight (F0) and offspring adult height; on average, a 1 kg increase in F0 birthweight was associated with a 2.04 cm increase in F1 adult height (beta 2.04, 95% confidence interval [CI] -0.03, 4.10). A positive association was found between F0 conditional weight gain during the first year of life and offspring (beta 1.53, 95% CI 0.45, 2.62) and grandchild height (beta 1.06, 95% CI 0.03, 2.10). Positive associations were also found between F0 weight at 1 year and offspring (beta 1.83, 95% CI 0.79, 2.87) and grandchild height (beta 0.91, 95% CI -0.10, 1.91). CONCLUSION:This study demonstrates an association between grandparental weight gain in early life and the heights of their children and grandchildren. The results of these analyses highlight the importance of early-life weight gain on the adult stature of subsequent offspring.

Original publication




Journal article


Paediatric and perinatal epidemiology

Publication Date





29 - 35


MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.