Excessive weight gain during pregnancy raises obesity risk in kids

Washington: Children with mothers who gain excessive amounts of weight during pregnancy have an 8 percent increased risk of obesity by the age of 12, a new study has revealed.

David S. Ludwig , MD, PhD, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children's Hospital, who conducted the study on 41,133 mothers and their children in Arkansas, said that excessive weight gain during pregnancy may have a potentially significant influence on propagation of the obesity epidemic.

Children with mothers who are obese, or gain too much weight during pregnancy, are more likely to be obese themselves.

However, this relationship may be due to confounding factors such as shared genes, common environmental influences and socioeconomic and demographic considerations, rather than any direct biological effects of maternal overnutrition.

Ludwig, together with coauthors Janet Currie, PhD, director of the Center for Health and Well Being, Princeton University and Heather Rouse, PhD, of Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, used a novel study design to examine other causes of childhood obesity.

They linked the birth records of mothers with two or more children to school records that included the child's body mass index (BMI) at an average age of 11.9 years, and then made statistical comparisons between siblings.

Comparing siblings minimizes the conventional sources of confounding, because on average siblings have the same relative distribution of obesity genes, the same home environment and same socioeconomic and demographic influences.

The study is published in journal PLoS Medicine.