Many women believe that their children will be born healthy if they eat as much as they can during pregnancy. Although this old wives’ tale may initially seem logical, a new study reveals that the effect can be quite the opposite.
A study conducted by researchers from the University of Minnesota and reported by ScienceDaily.com analyzed data on 59 non-diabetic and normal-weight mothers and 38 non-diabetic but overweight mothers. The researchers found out that children whose mothers weren’t obese grew 11 ounces and half an inch more than those whose mothers were.
"We’ve found these children are not growing normally,” says Katie Larson Ode, assistant clinical professor in pediatric endocrinology and diabetes at the University of Iowa. “If what we have found is true, it implies that the obesity epidemic is harming children while they are still in utero and increases the importance of addressing the risk of obesity before females enter the child-bearing years, where the negative effects can affect the next generation.”
So how exactly can a mother’s obesity affect an offspring its entire life? Larson Ode explains that it’s caused by two things: the mother’s inflamed fat cells that affect the fetus’ developing immune system and the excess fatty acids absorbed by the fetus, which overpower the growth hormones of the pituitary gland. As the child grows, the cells and acids transmitted to him through the umbilical cord and via breastfeeding incorporate themselves into his body, giving the child higher chances of “assimilating” his mother’s obesity.
Being overweight may cause you complications as much as it may give your child health conditions before he’s even born, so it’s important that you eat and exercise properly even before getting pregnant. Check out our stories on diet and lifestyle for more tips.
(Photo by o5com via Flickr Creative Commons)