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Losing Weight Before Pregnancy Can Benefit Baby

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

lose weightIf you’re trying to conceive, you might want to make sure you’re at a healthy weight first. New research suggests that overweight women who lose body fat before getting pregnant could improve the lifelong health of their babies. Plus, it may be a way to break the obesity cycle since previous studies have shown that babies born to obese moms are more likely to become obese kids and adults.

The collaborative study from researchers at the Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Research at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio and the National Institue of Nutrition in Mexico City was carried out on lab rats, not humans, but nonetheless the results were encouraging. They studied females rats that were raised on high-fat diets and compared one group that continued that diet through pregnancy and beyond with another group that started a healthier diet, with less fat, one month before mating.

“It is of interest that offspring of the obese mothers also showed high levels of leptin, a hormone that signals the brain to decrease appetite,” said Dr Peter Nathanielsz, a professor in UTHSC’s Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Research. “This may mean they’ve developed a brain that is resistant to the signals that tell them they’re getting fat, and they just go on eating and thus get fat as their mothers were.”

More positively though — researchers said this was the first time that a study has shown that changing a mother’s diet before pregnancy makes it possible to reverse the metabolic effects in babies born to obese moms. In other words, women who’ve struggled with their weight for their whole lives may not pass the same health issue on to their offspring if they lose weight before conceiving. With the childhood obesity epidemic, any ideas for how to help future generations are welcome. And beyond the effect on your child’s lifelong health, excess body weight can mess with your hormones, in turn making your menstrual cycles less regular, and lowering your chance of getting pregnant in the first place.

Get healthy advice on getting pregnant at Parents.com.

10 Ways to Boost Your Fertility

Quiz: What’s Your Babymaking IQ?

20 Things All Couples Should Do Before Getting Pregnant

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