Maternal obesity during pregnancy appears to be one of the reasons behind the increasing trend of childhood obesity. Pre-pregnancy obesity coupled with excessive weight gain during pregnancy significantly contributes towards making a child overweight, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatric Obesity.
A team of researchers from the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Southern California has established a definite link between maternal obesity and overweight children. The research was aimed at exploring the factors that contribute to gaining excessive weight during early childhood.
The findings from the new study, published in Pediatric Obesity, suggest that overweight mothers, having a BMI of more than 25, are at an increased risk of delivering children who would turn obese by the age of 2 years.
The key findings from the research are listed below :
- The risk of childhood obesity increases by more than two folds if the mother has a BMI of 30.0 or more prior to getting pregnant.
- Women with BMI in the range of 25.0 to 29.9 before conception are 50 percent more likely to experience their children gaining excessive weight as they turn 2 years old.
- Excessive weight gain during pregnancy results in 23 percent higher risk of the child being obese at age 2.
- Regardless of the mother’s pre-pregnancy weight, breastfeeding for at-least six months helps to reduce the risk of childhood obesity by nearly 24 percent.
BMI between 18.5 and 25.0 is considered to be the normal pre-pregnancy weight in healthy women. Excessive weight gain was defined in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Institute of Medicine. The classification of overweight children was based on the sex-specific growth charts defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children with BMI greater than the 85th percentile for their age and sex were identified to be overweight.
The research was conducted on 15,710 women who became mothers in the year 2011 at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in South California. The study not only highlights the need to reduce maternal obesity, but it also advocates the importance of appropriate gestational weight gain and promotes breastfeeding at the same time.