Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Baby

Font Size

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
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 27, 2010 -- Previous research has suggested that moms who are overweight or obese before they get pregnant are at risk for having offspring with behavioral such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and cognitive problems, but a new study shows this is not the case.

The new findings appear in Pediatrics.

Researchers analyzed two European pregnancy study groups comprising about 7,500 parents and children, and found no consistent link between pre-pregnancy maternal overweight and nonverbal skills, verbal skills, behavioral problems as a whole, hyperactivity, and attention issues in kids.

There were some initial hints of an association between maternal pre-pregnancy weight and verbal skills, total behavioral problems, and externalizing problems such as aggression, delinquency, and hyperactivity, but this link was not substantiated between the two study groups.

Dad’s weight was not associated with any behavior or cognition problems in offspring either, the new study shows.

The guiding theory was that there was something going on in the uterus during pregnancy that could increase risk for these problems in offspring, but the new study seems to debunk this theory. Certain socioeconomic or post-pregnancy factors such as lower socioeconomic status may increase the risk of behavior and cognition issues in offspring.

“We find little consistent evidence for intrauterine effects of maternal pre-pregnancy overweight on childhood verbal skills, nonverbal skills and behavioral problems,” conclude study researcher Marie-Jo Brion, PhD, of the University of Bristol and colleagues. “Previously reported finding of an association with childhood ADHD and intellectual function is not supported by the present study.”

Maternal Obesity

Manju Monga MD, Berel Held Professor and division director of maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston, says “this study does not appear to support other studies that suggest an association between maternal obesity and early childhood intelligence/verbal skills or behavioral problems.”

However, she tells WebMD in an email, “Maternal obesity is associated with an increased risk of pregnancy and postpartum complications such as fetal neural tube defects, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, cesarean delivery, postoperative infection, fetal macrosomia (large babies) and childhood obesity, so optimization of maternal weight prior to conception is recommended.”

“More research is needed,” she says, “before the results of this study can be generalized to pregnant women in the United States.”

Baby's First Year Newsletter

Because every week matters, get expert advice and facts on what to expect in your baby's first year.

Today on WebMD

mother on phone holding baby
When you should call 911.
parents and baby
Unexpected ways your life will change.
baby acne
What’s normal – and what’s not.
baby asleep on moms shoulder
Help your baby get the sleep he needs.

mother holding baby at night
mother with sick child
Chinese mother breast feeding newborn baby girl
Track Your Babys Vaccines
Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
Woman holding feet up to camera
Father kissing newborn baby
baby gear slideshow