Overweight pregnant women are less likely to affect children’s weight than previously thought

Children with a high BMI25 years or older, were more likely to be overweight or obese due to environmental factors rather than their the mother’s weight when she was pregnant, found the study published in the journal BMC Medicine.

Environmental factors include anything that causes children to eat more and exercise less, said study author Tom Bond, a senior research associate at the University of Bristol and a visiting scholar at the Imperial College London.

The researchers used data collected from the longitudinal studies Children of the 90s and Born in Bradford to analyze participants’ BMI at birth weight, at 1 year and 4 years. Additionally, BMI was analyzed only in children of 10- and 15-year-old participants in their 90s.

Children of the 90s is a long-term research group that begins with over 14,000 pregnant women recruited in the early 1990s. Born in Bradford is a research program that analyzes health data from over 30,000 people in Bradford , UK.

The results showed that there was a small link between the mother’s BMI and the baby’s birth weight, but the causality disappeared as the child got older.

“Although adolescent BMI is related to their mother’s BMI, this is more likely due to inherited genes and lifestyle factors rather than effects in the womb,” said Bond by email.

Many factors affect an adult’s BMI, so maternal weight control is not a “silver bullet” that will fix obesity, said Dr. Christopher Bolling, pediatrician at Pediatric Associates, PSC, in Crestview Hills , Kentucky, which was not involved in the study. He is also the past chair of the obesity section of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

A child’s environment and lifestyle, such as living near lots of fast-food restaurants or far from large, green, open spaces, can affect a child’s BMI, Bond says.

“We all seem to know the basics of lifestyle choices for a healthy weight. The challenge for us as a society is to make those healthy choices the easier choice,” Bolling said.

Children should have increased access to healthy foods and reduced access to unhealthy foods, he explained. They should also have more opportunities to engage in regular physical activity which can help limit sedentary behaviors.

Mothers still need to exercise caution

While there isn’t much correlation between a pregnant woman’s BMI and her child’s BMI later in life, that doesn’t mean these women are exempt from taking care of their weight.

There are still increased risks children face with a mother who has a high BMI, Bond said.

Some women with a high BMI may face complications such as cesarean deliveries or stillbirth, he explained.

In addition, pregnant women with a high BMI are at risk of developing gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, which is when a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure, protein in his urine and other serious symptoms. They also face possible birth complications like shoulder dystocia, which is when one or both of the baby’s shoulders getting caught in mother’s pelvis during labor, said Dr. Tamika Auguste, vice president of women and infant services at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in DC. She did not participate in the study.

Pregnant women should avoid “eating for two” and instead focus on healthy eating with exercise that is defined by their healthcare provider, Auguste said. Safe exercise options include walking, running and dancing, she explained.

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