Gestational weight gain generally does not influence child cognitive development

February 28, 2012, Nationwide Children's Hospital

A child's cognitive development is not generally impacted by how much weight his or her mother gained during pregnancy, according to a study from Nationwide Children's Hospital. This is the first study to use methods controlling for the widest range of confounding factors when directly examining the association between gestational weight gain and childhood cognition.

Insufficient or in pregnancy can have for fetuses and children including . The Institute of Medicine recently revised gestational weight gain guidelines, recommending that women gain weight within specific weight gain ranges for their category. Yet little is known about the association between extremes of gestational weight gain and child cognition.

"One challenge for studies examining gestational weight gain and child outcomes is separating the effect of gestational weight gain from confounders," said Sarah A. Keim, PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Biobehavioral Health at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "Confounders such as maternal intelligence, whether the family environment promotes cognitive development, family diet and exercise and some genetic factors can influence neurodevelopment postnatal and also gestational weight gain."

To address these gaps in data, Dr. Keim led a study to assess the association between gestational weight gain and the of children at 4 and 7 years of age. The study appears in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Using data from the U.S. Collaborative Perinatal Project, Dr. Keim's team employed two statistical approaches. The more traditional approach adjusted for factors like the mother's weight before pregnancy, her race and the baby's sex. The other used a fixed-effects approach to control for all potential confounding factors that are shared among siblings, such as a proportion of genetic factors and .

Findings showed that any observed detrimental influence of extremes of gestational weight gain on cognition can be explained by familial or shared rather than gestational weight gain itself. Dr. Keim cautions that these results do not apply to preterm children and don't account for all possible confounding factors. "Strength of our approach is the potential for reduced bias in our estimates," said Dr. Keim. "However, this does not eliminate the possibility of residual confounding from factors siblings do not share. Our findings suggest that gestational weight gain is generally unassociated with child cognitive development."

Explore further: Pregnant women can prevent excess weight gain with simple steps, study finds

More information: Keim SA, Pruitt NT. Gestational weight gain and child cognitive development. Int J Epidemiol. 2012 Feb 7. [Epub ahead of print]

Related Stories

Pregnant women can prevent excess weight gain with simple steps, study finds

June 6, 2011
A new study reports that a low-cost healthy lifestyle program, including self-weighing weekly or monthly, by pregnant women with pre-existing overweight can prevent them from gaining too much weight during early pregnancy. ...

Recommended for you

Placental accumulation of flame retardant chemical alters serotonin production in rats

January 22, 2018
A North Carolina State University-led research team has shown a connection between exposure to a widely used flame retardant chemical mixture and disruption of normal placental function in rats, leading to altered production ...

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.