Men might have to be taught not to indulge their wive’s pregnancy cravings after all.
According to new research, women who are overweight before or during their pregnancies can affect their children’s health, even into adulthood.
The study, by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the University of Washington in the United States, found a direct correlation between excess weight in mothers and higher risks of life-threatening conditions in their children, such as high blood pressure and high sugar and fat levels in the blood.
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The results, published in the journal Circulation, were based on analysis of clinical information of 1,400 people who were born in Jerusalem between the years of 1974-76. The data provided information on their birth records, including the weights of their mothers before and during pregnancy and the weight of the child at birth.
The researchers further gathered clinical data on the examined group, all at the age of 32, including their weight, blood pressure and sugar and fat levels in the blood, as well as measurements of body mass index (BMI) – a measure of body fat based on height and weight – as well as hip width.
The results of the research showed a clear influence of the excess weight of the mothers on the weight of their children, affecting in turn other risk factors in adulthood.
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“We know now that events occurring early in life to fetuses have long-lasting consequences for the health of the adult person,” said Dr. Hagit Hochner, the project’s leading researcher.
Wider hips, higher BMI
Thus, for example, children of mothers who gained more than 14 kilograms (31 pounds) during pregnancy were found to have a higher BMI than those who were born to mothers who did not gain more than nine kilos (20 pounds) during pregnancy. In terms of hip measurements, the adult children of overweight pregnant mothers had hip widths nearly ten centimeters wider, on average, than those who were born to mothers who were not overweight.
Similar comparisons were made regarding sugar and fat levels in the blood, all indicating that those born to overweight mothers had detrimental characteristics regarding their health and life expectancies compared to those born to mothers who had not gained excessive weight.
Additional factors could also have an influence on the phenomenon, including analogous genetic traits of the mother and child or environmental influences during pregnancy, and these are be worthy of further investigation, the researchers say.
Co-Researcher, Prof. Orly Manor, added that “in an age of an ‘overweight epidemic’ in the world, it is important to know the factors that are involved in leading to overweight and other health risks. This understanding makes it essential that we identify those early windows of opportunity in which we can intervene in order to reduce the risks of chronic illness later in life.”
Photo by Alan Cleaver