Maternal dietary fat intake during pregnancy is associated with infant temperament

Hanna C. Gustafsson, Sierra E. Kuzava, Elizabeth A. Werner, Catherine Monk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Research with rodents and nonhuman primates suggests that maternal prenatal dietary fat intake is associated with offspring behavioral functioning indicative of risk for psychopathology. The extent to which these findings extend to humans remains unknown. The current study administered the Automated Self-Administered 24hr Dietary Recall Questionnaire three times in pregnancy (n=48) to examine women's dietary fat intake in relation to infant temperament assessed using the Infant Behavior Questionnaire at 4-months old. The amount of saturated fat that the mother consumed was considered as a moderator of the association between total fat intake and child temperament. Results from a series of multiple linear regressions indicate that greater total fat intake was associated with poorer infant regulation and lower surgency. However, this second effect was moderated by maternal saturated fat intake, such that total fat intake was only related to infant surgency when mothers consumed above the daily recommended allowance of saturated fat. Under conditions of high total fat and high saturated fat, infants were rated as lower on surgency; under conditions of low total fat yet high saturated fat, infants were rated as higher on surgency. There were no associations between maternal prenatal fat intake and infant negative reactivity. These findings provide preliminary evidence that pregnant women's dietary fat intake is associated with infants' behavioral development, though future research is needed to address this report's limitations: a relatively small sample size, the use of self-report measures, and a lack of consideration of maternal and infant postnatal diet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)528-535
Number of pages8
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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