Maternal-fetal interactions and birth order influence insulin variable number of tandem repeats allele class associations with head size at birth and childhood weight gain.
Ong KK., Petry CJ., Barratt BJ., Ring S., Cordell HJ., Wingate DL., Pembrey ME., Todd JA., Dunger DB., Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood Study Team None.
Polymorphism of the insulin gene (INS) variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR; class I or class III alleles) locus has been associated with adult diseases and with birth size. Therefore, this variant is a potential contributory factor to the reported fetal origins of adult disease. In the population-based Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood birth cohort, we have confirmed in the present study the association between the INS VNTR III/III genotype and larger head circumference at birth (odds ratio [OR] 1.92, 95% CI 1.23-3.07; P = 0.004) and identified an association with higher cord blood IGF-II levels (P = 0.05 to 0.0001). The genotype association with head circumference was influenced by maternal parity (birth order): the III/III OR for larger head circumference was stronger in second and subsequent pregnancies (OR 5.0, 95% CI 2.2-11.5; P = 0.00003) than in first pregnancies (1.2, 0.6-2.2; P = 0.8; interaction with birth order, P = 0.02). During childhood, the III/III genotype remained associated with larger head circumference (P = 0.004) and was also associated with greater BMI (P = 0.03), waist circumference (P = 0.03), and higher fasting insulin levels in girls (P = 0.02). In addition, there were interactions between INS VNTR genotype and early postnatal weight gain in determining childhood BMI (P = 0.001 for interaction), weight (P = 0.005), and waist circumference (P = 0.0005), such that in the approximately 25% of children (n = 286) with rapid early postnatal weight gain, class III genotype-negative children among this group gained weight more rapidly. Our results indicate that complex prenatal and postnatal gene-maternal/fetal interactions influence size at birth and childhood risk factors for adult disease.