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Obesity during pregnancy could risk child’s brain development

Children’s brain development is at greater risk if their mother was obese before becoming pregnant, a study shows


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Children’s brain development is at greater risk if their mother was obese before becoming pregnant, a study shows.

Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond in the US found the risk from being obese was 51% compared to 17% for those who were overweight.

They selected mothers and children involved in 41 studies from a pool of 1,483 to make an observational analysis.

Healthy weight

Writing in the journal Obesity Reviews, they said they found that compared with children of mothers of normal weight, those from pre-pregnancy obese mothers had a 62% increased risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a 36% increased risk of autism spectrum disorder, a 58% higher risk of developmental delay and a 42% greater risk of emotional/behavioural problems.

‘Like avoiding smoking during pregnancy, this review suggests that maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy may also be important to a child’s brain development,’ said senior author Bernard Fuemmeler.


Sanchez C et al (2017) Maternal pre-pregnancy obesity and child neurodevelopmental outcomes: a meta-analysis. Obesity Reviews. doi: 10.1111/obr.12643

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