According to NBC News, a new study published in JAMA notes that mothers who eat to excess while pregnant could be causing serious health issues in their developing child.
The study was done in an effort to thwart the rising rate of obesity in children. “With the progression of the obesity [epidemic] there has been attention that over-nutrition could also have negative consequences,” says Dr. David Ludwig, director of Boston Children’s Hospital’s New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center.
Basically, what you do today could have dire consequences for your child in the future. As Ludwig puts it, “It is quite extraordinary when you think about it; the effects during pregnancy can potentially have a lifetime implication.” This discovery may be "quite extraordinary" for scientists, but for those moms-to-be grappling with the munchies and some of the not-so-healthy cravings that come with the pregnancy territory, this is some seriously stressful news!
The study took mothers who had more than one child, so as to rule out confounding factors like genetics and environment. It looked at the body mass index (BMI) of 42,133 mothers at the birth of their 91,045 children along with the BMI data from these children at age 12. Ludwig then compared the BMIs of each mother between the pregnancies to see if her weight gain changed and if that ultimately influenced the weight of her child/children.
“Variations in pregnancy weight gain accounted for a half unit difference in child BMI at an average of 12 years," Ludwig concluded. While the effect is admittedly small, the study shows it still could be one of the many factors causing childhood obesity.
In the end, Ludwig suggests all women thinking of getting pregnant should factor in their weight and try to get it as close to ideal for them as possible. “Women are especially motivated during pregnancy because they are aware that the health of their baby is at stake,” he says. “Maintaining an optimal level of weight … is going to have ongoing benefits to your child.”
This is easier said than done, that’s for sure, and likely to strike a possible negative chord with many expectant mothers.
Source: NBC News