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Health & Pregnancy

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Too Much Pregnancy Weight Gain Raises Child’s Obesity Risk

Study Finds Pregnancy Weight Contributes to Childhood Obesity Independently of Genetics

A Look at Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years, according to the CDC. From 1980 to 2008, the prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 jumped from 6.5% to 19.6%; for those aged 12 to 19, those figures increased from 5% to 18.1%, respectively.

Obesity is a major risk factor for several chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, even arthritis. There is a growing interest in the fetal origins of disease that occur later in life, including obesity. The authors suggest that pregnant women may benefit from weight management and prevention strategies to help reduce the risk of weight gain in their children.

“Because high birth weight predicts BMI later in life, these findings suggest that excessive weight gain during pregnancy could raise the long-term risk of obesity-related disease in offspring,” the authors write. “High birth weight might also increase risk of other diseases later in life, including asthma, atopy, and cancer.”

In an accompanying editorial, Neal Halfon and Michael C. Lu from the Center for Healthier Children Families Communities at the University of California in Los Angeles write that “although a better understanding of the effect of gestational weight gain on the developing fetus and metabolic functioning of the newborn child is important, research is urgently needed into how to help women of reproductive age attain and maintain a healthy weight before and during pregnancy. With a growing focus on preconceptional health, there is an opportunity to develop effective interventions to help women conceive at a healthier weight. More effective population-based strategies are needed to produce healthier life-long weight trajectories, and to interrupt the cross-generational cycle of excessive weight gain.”

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