Milk consumption during pregnancy is associated with increased infant size at birth: prospective cohort study

Sjurdur F Olsen, Thorhallur I Halldorsson, Walter C Willett, Vibeke K Knudsen, Matthew W Gillman, Tina B Mikkelsen, Jørn Olsen, NUTRIX Consortium

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

148 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Cow milk contains many potentially growth-promoting factors.OBJECTIVE: The objective was to examine whether milk consumption during pregnancy is associated with greater infant size at birth.DESIGN: During 1996-2002, the Danish National Birth Cohort collected data on midpregnancy diet through questionnaires and on covariates through telephone interviews and ascertained birth outcomes through registry linkages. Findings were adjusted for mother's parity, age, height, prepregnant BMI, gestational weight gain, smoking status, and total energy intake; father's height; and family's socioeconomic status The analyses included data from 50,117 mother-infant pairs.RESULTS: Mean (+/-SD) consumption of milk was 3.1 +/- 2.0 glasses/d. Milk consumption was inversely associated with the risk of small-for gestational age (SGA) birth and directly with both large-for-gestational age (LGA) birth and mean birth weight (P for trend < 0.001). In a comparison of women drinking >or=6 glasses/d with those drinking 0 glasses/d, the odds ratio for SGA was 0.51 (95% CI: 0.39, 0.65) and for LGA was 1.59 (1.16, 2.16); the increment in mean birth weight was 108 g (74, 143 g). We also found graded relations (P < 0.001) for abdominal circumference (0.52 cm; 0.35, 0.69 cm), placental weight (26 g; 15, 38 g), birth length (increment: 0.31 cm; 0.15, 0.46 cm), and head circumference (0.13 cm; 0.04, 0.25 cm). Birth weight was related to intake of protein, but not of fat, derived from milk.CONCLUSION: Milk intake in pregnancy was associated with higher birth weight for gestational age, lower risk of SGA, and higher risk of LGA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1104-1110
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of clinical nutrition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2007


  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Anthropometry
  • Birth Weight/physiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Fetal Macrosomia/epidemiology
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn/growth & development
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age/growth & development
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena/physiology
  • Milk
  • Odds Ratio
  • Parity
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Class
  • Weight Gain/physiology


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