We examined the relation between maternal anthropometry and mammographic density in the adult daughter using prospectively collected data.


Our study included a total of 700 mother-daughter dyads participating in an adult follow-up of women born in 2 US birth cohorts: the Child Health and Development Study and the Boston, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island sites of the National Collaborative Perinatal Project.


We observed an increased percent breast density at a mean age of 43.1 years in the daughters of mothers who gained 5 kg or less during pregnancy compared with mother-daughter pairs in which the mother gained 5 to 10 kg (β = 4.8, 95% confidence interval: 1.0 to 8.6). The daughters of mothers who were overweight at the time of conception (prepregnancy BMI ≥25) and who gained >5 kg during pregnancy had a lower percent density (β = –3.2, 95% confidence interval: –6.2 to –0.2) compared with mothers with a BMI <25 at conception who gained >5 kg.


We did not find any strong and consistent patterns between maternal anthropometry and the daughter’s breast density, a strong predictor of breast cancer risk. A modest association between low gestational weight gain and increased breast density 40 years later in the daughter was observed, even after accounting for adult body size, and if confirmed, possible mechanisms need to be further elucidated.

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