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August 5, 2010

Pregnancy Weight And Childhood Obesity Linked

A new study funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health has discovered a link between the weight gain of pregnant mothers and the risk of obesity in their children.

In a population-based study, Dr. David S. Ludwig of Children's Hospital in Boston and Columbia University economics professor Janet Currie looked at all known births in the states of Michigan and New Jersey from 1989 through 2003.

According to their findings, which were published in the August 5 edition of The Lancet, expectant mothers who gained 50-pounds during their pregnancies were twice as likely to have a high birthweight infant as those who only gained 20.

For purposes of the study, high birthweight was defined as anything over 8 pounds, 13 ounces.

Furthermore, in their research, Ludwig and Currie "found that if the same woman gained roughly double the weight during one pregnancy compared with another, her baby was on average half a pound, or 200 grams, heavier than its sibling, a large difference for newborns," according Shirley S. Wang of the Wall Street Journal."

"The more weight the women gained, the higher the risk of having a high-birth-weight baby," Wang also noted in a Thursday article. "Women who gained more than 52 pounds, for instance, were 2.3 times as likely to have a high-birthweight baby as women who gained 18 to 22 pounds, within the recommended range of gain for overweight women."

"In view of the apparent association between birthweight and adult weight, obesity prevention efforts targeted at women during pregnancy might be beneficial for offspring," the researchers write in the 'Interpretation' section of their paper's summary.

"Research is urgently needed into how to help women of reproductive age attain and maintain a healthy weight before and during pregnancy," Dr. Neal Halfon and Dr. Michael Lu of the University of California's Center for Healthier Children Families Communities wrote in an article accompanying the research paper. "With a growing focus on preconceptional health, there is an opportunity to develop effective interventions to help women conceive at a healthier weight."

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