Maternal Employment and Infant BMI z Score in a US Birth Cohort

Vanessa M. Oddo, Cathrine Hoyo, Truls Østbye, Sara E. Benjamin-Neelon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the association between maternal employment and infant BMI z score. Methods: Longitudinal data from 520 mother-infant dyads participating in the Nurture Study, an observational cohort in the southeastern United States, were leveraged. Women were categorized as employed or nonemployed at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months, and measured anthropometrics were used to calculate infants’ BMI z scores at the corresponding time points. BMI z score was defined using the World Health Organization standard. Household income was an effect modifier. Therefore, income-stratified (≤$40,000/y vs. >$40,000/y) linear regression models, with individual fixed effects, were used to examine associations between change in maternal employment status and BMI z scores among infants aged 3 to 12 months. Fixed effects controlled for time-invariant confounders (race/ethnicity, infant gender). This study also controlled for marital status and infant age. Results: More women from higher-income (68.4%) versus lower-income households (52.6%) were employed. Among lower-income households, change from nonemployment to employment was associated with higher infant BMI z scores (β = 0.12; 95% CI: −0.01 to 0.25, P = 0.07). Among higher-income households, change in maternal employment status was associated with lower infant BMI z scores (β = −0.72; 95% CI: −1.17 to −0.27, P = 0.02). Conclusions: Maternal employment was related to infant adiposity. The direction of the association varied by household-level income.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2389-2396
Number of pages8
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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