London: Babies of mothers with a higher pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) are fatter and have more fat in their liver, says a new study led by Indian-origin researcher.
Professor Neena Modi and colleagues at Imperial College London say that the effect of a mother`s BMI on her child`s development in the womb might put them on a trajectory towards lifelong metabolic health problems, the `Pediatric Research` journal reported.
The research team used magnetic resonance scanning to assess 105 babies born at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.
The babies were scanned while they were asleep to measure the amount of fat in their liver cells, the total amount of fat in their bodies and its distribution. They found that
liver cell fat in the babies and total fat, particularly around the abdomen, increased across the entire range of BMI in their mothers.
Children of overweight and obese mothers are already known to have a higher risk of being overweight and obese themselves, and of experiencing associated metabolic health
problems such as type-2 diabetes.
"This study demonstrates that a woman`s BMI, even in the normal range, affects the amount of fat in her baby at birth. Fatter women have fatter babies and there is more fat in the babies livers.
"If these effects persist through childhood and beyond, they could put the child at risk of lifelong metabolic health
"There is growing evidence that a baby`s development before birth has a major impact on their health in later life.
This means that the prevention of obesity needs to begin in the womb," Prof Modi said.