Early life factors and white matter microstructure in children with overweight and obesity: The ActiveBrains project
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AuthorSolís Urra, Patricio; Esteban Cornejo, Irene; Rodríguez Ayllón, María; Verdejo Román, Juan; Catena Martínez, Andrés; Ortega Porcel, Francisco Bartolomé
ChildhoodBirth weightWhite matterAcademic achievement
Patricio Solis-Urra... [et al.]. Early life factors and white matter microstructure in children with overweight and obesity: The ActiveBrains project, Clinical Nutrition, Volume 41, Issue 1, 2022, Pages 40-48, ISSN 0261-5614, [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2021.10.022]
SponsorshipSpanish Government DEP2013-47540 DEP2016-79512-R DEP2017-91544-EXP; European Commission European Commission European Commission Joint Research Centre 667302; Alicia Koplowitz Foundation; UGR Research and Knowledge Transfer Fund (PPIT) 2016, Excellence Actions Programme; European Commission SOMM17/6107/UGR; SAMID III network, RETICS - PN I+D+I 2017-2021 (Spain); Andalusian Operational Programme - European Regional Development Funds B-CTS-355-UGR18; ANID/BECAS Chile 72180543; Spanish Government RTI2018-095284-J-100 FJCI-2017-33396 RYC2019-027287-I
Background & aims: Exposure to a suboptimal environment during the fetal and early infancy period's results in long-term consequences for brain morphology and function. We investigated the associations of early life factors such as anthropometric neonatal data (i.e., birth length, birth weight and birth head circumference) and breastfeeding practices (i.e., exclusive and any breastfeeding) with white matter (WM) microstructure, and ii) we tested whether WM tracts related to early life factors are associated with academic performance in children with overweight/obesity. Methods: 96 overweight/obese children (10.03 +/- 1.16 years; 38.7% girls) were included from the ActiveBrains Project. WM microstructure indicators used were fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD), derived from Diffusion Tensor Imaging. Academic performance was evaluated with the Battery III Woodcock-Munoz Tests of Achievement. Regression models were used to examine the associations of the early life factors with tract-specific FA and MD, as well as its association with academic performance. Results: Head circumference at birth was positively associated with FA of the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus tract (0.441; p = 0.005), as well as negatively associated with MD of the cingulate gyrus part of cingulum (-0.470; p = 0.006), corticospinal (-0.457; p = 0.005) and superior thalamic radiation tract (-0.476; p = 0.001). Association of birth weight, birth length and exclusive breastfeeding with WM microstructure did not remain significant after false discovery rate correction. None tract related to birth head circumference was associated with academic performance (all p > 0.05). Conclusions: Our results highlighted the importance of the perinatal growth in WM microstructure later in life, although its possible academic implications remain inconclusive.