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Children of obese mothers at increased risk of obesity

Children of obese mothers more likely to be obese

A new study has found that children whose mothers were overweight or obese before pregnancy, or whose mothers gained too much weight during pregnancy, are at an increased risk of being obese themselves.


The study included 727 Dominican and black mothers in the South Bronx and northern Manhattan. Forty-five percent of the women were overweight or obese before pregnancy, and 64 percent gained more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy. The Institute of Medicine Guidelines recommends that pregnant women gain 25 to 35 pounds, which includes approximately one pound per week during the second and third trimesters.

Twenty-two percent of the children born to these women were obese themselves by the age of 7. On average 24 percent of their body mass was fat.

Being born to a mother who was overweight or obese increased the children's risk of obesity by 300 percent.

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"Some weight gain during pregnancy is normal, but women need to know that gaining too much weight can put their child at risk for being obese in childhood and as they get older, which places them at higher risk for future chronic disease," said study author Elizabeth Widen, a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City.

"Because pregnancy weight gain has lasting implications for childhood health, we need to determine how to support women to gain a healthy amount of weight in pregnancy."

The findings were published online in the journal Maternal & Child Nutrition.

A 2009 study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found that obese women who gain more than the recommended amount during pregnancy are less likely to lose the weight within a year of giving birth. The study defined excess weight as more than 15 pounds, although the IOM guidelines suggest that obese women gain between 11 to 20 pounds during pregnancy.