Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
International Journal of Pediatrics
Volume 2012, Article ID 324185, 6 pages
Clinical Study

Long-Term Effects of Placental Growth on Overweight and Body Composition

1Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, University of Helsinki, PL 20, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
2Department of Chronic Disease Prevention, National Institute for Health and Welfare, PL 30, 00271 Helsinki, Finland
3Vasa Central Hospital, Sandviksgatan 2-4, 65130 Vasa, Finland
4Folkhälsan Research Centre, University of Helsinki, PB 63, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
5Unit of General Practice, Helsinki University Central Hospital (HUS), 00029 Helsinki, Finland
6Heart Research Center, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR 97201-3098, USA
7MRC Epidemiology Resource Centre, Southampton General Hospital, University of Southampton, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK
8Department of Internal Medicine, Kuopio University Hospital, 70211 Kuopio, Finland
9Department of Clinical Nutrition, Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Eastern Finland, 70211 Kuopio, Finland
10Department of Physiology, Institute of Biomedicine, University of Eastern Finland, 70211 Kuopio, Finland
11Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Helsinki University Central Hospital, 00029 Helsinki, Finland
12College of Science, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Saudi Arabia

Received 17 October 2011; Revised 12 February 2012; Accepted 16 February 2012

Academic Editor: Ricardo D. Uauy

Copyright © 2012 Johan G. Eriksson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Obesity is programmed in utero and small babies generally have small placentas. In some circumstances, an undernourished fetus can expand its placental surface to extract more nutrients. We hypothesize that this results in an imbalanced nutrient supply to the fetus leading to obesity. To determine whether placental size determines overweight and body composition, we studied 2003 subjects in adult life. Associations between placental surface area and indices of overweight were restricted to people who carried the Pro12Pro genotype of the PPARγ2 gene. For every 1 SD increase in placental surface area, the odds ratio for overweight was 1.37 (95% CI 1.10 to 1.71; ). Expansion of the placental surface in compensation for fetal undernutrition increases the risk of overweight and a higher body fat percentage in people carrying the Pro12Pro genotype. We suggest that similar underlying multifactorial mechanisms affect the development of obesity in general.