High pregnancy and post-delivery weight gain are factors that independently program children to become overweight or obese well into adolescence, according to a new study.
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics revealed that excessive weight gain during and after pregnancy is associated with higher body mass index (BMI) in children, indicating that the influence of the environment inside the womb in addition to family lifestyle, can impact on the future health of children.
The study assessed weight changes in about 3300 children from birth to 14 years. Maternal BMI was also recorded prior to, and during pregnancy, and up to 14 years post-delivery. About 31% of mothers who had excessive pregnancy weight gain were more likely to have a history of smoking and overweight children. On the other hand, BMI increased or persisted throughout childhood in children of mothers with high post-delivery weight gain. The highest BMI in children was found to be associated with combined excessive pregnancy and post-delivery weight gain in mothers.
In comparison, the BMI of children whose mothers had low or moderate weight gain during pregnancy and post-delivery decreased or remained at a healthy BMI between birth and 14 years of age.
The results of the study highlighted factors such as pregnancy weight gain and shared lifestyle that could predict overweight or obesity in children, emphasizing the importance of proper weight management during pregnancy in the overall health of a child.
Van Rossem L, Wijga AH, Gehring U, Koppelman GH, Smit HA. Maternal gestational and postdelivery weight gain and child weight. Pediatrics. 2015; 136(5): e1294. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2015-0874
Written by Ana Victoria Pilar, PhD