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Kids’ Behavior Not Linked to Obese Moms-to-Be

Study Shows Obesity in Moms Before Pregnancy Does Not Raise Risk for Kids’ Later Behavior Problems
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Psychological Warning Signs?

Leon Hoffman, MD, co-director of the Pacella Parent Child Center of The New York Psychoanalytic Society in New York City, says that extreme obesity in moms may be a warning sign of future psychosocial problems in their offspring. “That's why the study is interesting and valuable and should be on the radar,” he tells WebMD in an email.

Severe pre-maternal overweight status may reflect some other underlying factor that may affect a child's development, he says. “If a mom is severely overweight, doctors should take into consideration a variety of psychosocial issues -- not just physiological issues.”

Shari Gelber, MD, PhD, an ob-gyn and maternal-fetal medicine expert at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City, agrees. “I would say if there is a link between maternal weight and the risk of future cognitive or behavioral problems, it is much more likely to be socioeconomic,” she says. Poorer families, for example, may be less likely to consume healthy foods, and not have unbridled access to education and/or enrichment tools.

Maternal weight was associated with socioeconomic status in the new study.

The message is clear, she says. “Talk to your doctor before you get pregnant or when you first become pregnant about what is an appropriate weight for you,” she says. “Aside from ADHD, being overweight before and during pregnancy has a lot of consequences. It increases your risk of having a large baby, gestational diabetes, and your child has an increased risk of obesity and heart disease.”

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