High maternal BMI during pregnancy unlikely to cause fatness in childhood and adolescence

January 24, 2017
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

There is little evidence to support any long-term impact of maternal body mass index (BMI) in pregnancy on a child's risk of fatness in childhood and adolescence, according to a new study published in PLOS Medicine by Rebecca Richmond of the University of Bristol, UK, and colleagues.

Research has shown that a mother's BMI during is associated with greater birth size of her offspring. However, whether this association continues through childhood and is mediated by processes that occur during gestation—such as effects of circulating glucose and lipids levels—had been unclear. In the new study, the researchers used body mass and genetic information on 6,057 mother-offspring pairs from two prospective birth cohort studies. In one cohort, the offspring's BMI was measured around age 6; in the other it was taken multiple times between ages 7 and 18.

While the researchers found associations between maternal BMI before pregnancy and offspring BMI at all ages, these associations were largely explained by transmission of genes associated with fatness. When a weighted genetic risk score was integrated into the analysis, the remaining association between pre-pregnancy BMI of a mother and her offspring's childhood BMI was nearly null. The study had limited power for some sensitivity tests, relied on self-reported pre-pregnancy BMI, and did not include any study of weight gain during pregnancy.

"These findings suggest that directed at all family members and at different stages of the life course are likely to be important and are potentially more likely to halt the obesity epidemic than a focus on maternal overweight and obesity status in pregnancy," the authors say.

Explore further: Piling on the pregnancy pounds does no harm to baby in the long-term

More information: Richmond RC, Timpson NJ, Felix JF, Palmer T, Gaillard R, McMahon G, et al. (2017) Using Genetic Variation to Explore the Causal Effect of Maternal Pregnancy Adiposity on Future Offspring Adiposity: A Mendelian Randomisation Study. PLoS Med 14(1): e1002221. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002221

Related Stories

Piling on the pregnancy pounds does no harm to baby in the long-term

January 18, 2017
A study from the University of Aberdeen has found that mothers' weight gain in pregnancy is not linked to increased risk of premature death in their adult children.

Pre-pregnancy BMI important indicator of offspring obesity

April 17, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Maternal gestational weight gain (GWG) during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy correlates with body mass index (BMI)-based overweight/obesity and abdominal obesity at age 16, but maternal pre-pregnancy BMI is ...

An overfed fetus may become an overweight adolescent

April 1, 2016
Higher levels of blood markers in the umbilical cord indicate that the baby has more fat and may continue having more fat into late childhood and adolescence, new research suggests. The results will be presented in a poster ...

Recent study shows maternal protein restriction in mice alters energy and behavior in male offspring

January 19, 2017
A team of researchers at Baylor College of Medicine have found that the adult offspring of mouse dams that consumed a low-protein diet during pregnancy and lactation had an increase in body fat, lower energy expenditure and ...

Maternal B12 levels impact children's cardiometabolic health

February 12, 2016
(HealthDay)—Mothers' vitamin B12 levels in early pregnancy may impact children's cardiometabolic risk factors at age 5 years, according to a study published in the February issue of BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics ...

Maternal hyperglycemia not linked to obesity in offspring

June 29, 2015
(HealthDay)—Maternal hyperglycemia seems not to be a risk factor for obesity in offspring aged 5 to 7 years after adjustment for maternal body mass index (BMI), according to a study published online June 19 in Diabetes ...

Recommended for you

Warning labels can help reduce soda consumption and obesity, new study suggests

December 15, 2017
Labels that warn people about the risks of drinking soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages can lower obesity and overweight prevalence, suggests a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

Parents modeling healthy behaviors leads to markedly better outcomes for children

December 13, 2017
When trying to help children lose weight, involving a parent in the treatment makes the entire family healthier, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown.

'Obesity paradox' not found when measuring new cases of cardiovascular disease

December 7, 2017
Although obesity is a well-known risk factor for getting cardiovascular disease, a controversial body of research suggests that obesity may actually be associated with improved survival among people who have cardiovascular ...

Harmful effects of being overweight underestimated

December 1, 2017
The harmful effects of being overweight have been underestimated, according to a new study that analysed body mass index (BMI), health and mortality data in around 60,000 parents and their children, to establish how obesity ...

More than half of US children will have obesity as adults if current trends continue

November 29, 2017
If current trends in child obesity continue, more than 57% of today's children in the U.S. will have obesity at age 35, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Exercise alone does not lead to weight loss in women—in the medium term

November 23, 2017
Knowing whether or not exercise causes people to lose weight is tricky. When people take up exercise, they often restrict their diet – consciously or unconsciously – and this can mask the effects of the exercise. In our ...

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.