Friday, October 4th, 2013
Mothers who gain an excessive amount of weight during pregnancy raise the risk that their babies will develop into overweight children, according to a new study published in the journal PLoS Medicine. More from Today.com:
“With the progression of the obesity [epidemic] there has been attention that over-nutrition could also have negative consequences,” says Dr. David Ludwig, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital.
“It is quite extraordinary when you think about it; the effects during pregnancy can potentially have a lifetime implication.”
Ludwig looked at the body mass index (BMI) of 42,133 mothers at the birth of their 91,045 children and BMI data of these children until age 12. The researchers only studied mothers who had more than one child to rule out other confounding factors, such as genetics and environment. Siblings share the same genetics and generally grow up eating the same food and exercising the same. If one sibling was overweight but the other normal, researchers could rule out environment and genetics, something that has been difficult to do in other studies.
Then Ludwig compared the BMIs of each mother between her pregnancies to see if the mother’s weight gain changed and if that influenced her child’s weight.
“Variations in pregnancy weight gain accounted for a half unit difference in child BMI at an average of 12 years,” Ludwig said. Since the 1970s when the obesity epidemic began, the change in BMI across the population increased by about two units. This effect remains small on an individual basis but could be one of the factors causing childhood obesity.
While researchers have long known that under-nutrition has a detrimental effect on children, this is the first study that shows that over-nutrition can also harm offspring.
“Excessive weight gain, above recommended levels, can also place that next generation at risk,” Ludwig says.
The study emphasized that the “right” amount of weight women should gain in pregnancy depends on a number of factors, including whether they were at a healthy weight, or over- or underweight before they became pregnant. Women should establish their target weight gain with their doctors.
Image: Pregnant belly, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, August 21st, 2013
A new study from Denmark suggests that moms who quit smoking right before or right after getting pregnant are more likely to give birth to normal-weight babies than women who continue to puff.
Of the nearly 1,800 women in the study, those who quit smoking did gain about six more pounds than those who continued to smoke, and they gained roughly the same amount in the year after delivery. But their babies weighed the same, on average, as the babies of moms who never smoked. Low-birth-weight babies face higher risk for infections, respiratory disorders, and learning disabilities.
Reuters has more details:
“The big thing to get out of this study is that quitting early in pregnancy is as helpful in respect to the birth weight of your baby as never having smoked while you were pregnant,” Dr. Amber Samuel, a maternal-fetal medicine expert at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, said.
“I think that can be an inspiration to moms who are looking to make a change in their lives.”
According to the American Cancer Society, between 10 and 15 percent of women smoke during pregnancy. Studies have linked smoking to premature birth and other complications, such as birth defects, low birth weight, and stillbirth.
Infants have a three to four times higher risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome, or “crib death,” if their mothers smoke during and after pregnancy. Children exposed to secondhand smoke also have more ear infections, pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, and other health problems.
The new study included 1,774 women who were part of the “Smoke-free Newborn” study conducted in Copenhagen, Denmark, between 1996 and 1999.
Twice during pregnancy, researchers surveyed women about their smoking status. To double-check whether women who said they quit smoking really did, their saliva was checked for cotinine – created when nicotine is broken down in the body.
About 38 percent of women were smokers before becoming pregnant, and half of them quit right before or soon after, Dr. Line Rode of Copenhagen University Hospital and colleagues found.
During pregnancy, nonsmokers gained almost 30 pounds, on average, smokers gained 29 pounds and quitters gained 35 pounds.
Image: Pregnant belly with cigarette, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011
College students do gain weight during their years on campus, new research from Ohio State University has found, but at nowhere near the levels that are notoriously associated with those first years away from home. The average student gained between 2.5 and 3.5 pounds during their freshman year, the study reports, but college-aged teens who are not attending school gained only a half pound less, leading researchers to associate weight gain with young adulthood, not the college experience.
The study — which used data from 7,418 young Americans who participated in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 — also found that women gained an average of 2.4 pounds (about one kilo) during their freshman year, while men gained an average of 3.4 pounds (about 1.5 kilos). No more than 10 percent of college freshman gained 15 pounds (6.8 kilos) or more — and a quarter of freshman reported actually losing weight during their first year.
Yet, college students did continue to gain weight steadily while in school, with women gaining between seven and nine pounds (3.17-4 kilos), and men gaining between 12 and 13 pounds (5.4-5.9 kilos). But the researchers noted that dorm living was not in fact to blame, debunking the myth that unlimited buffets and lack of parental supervision resulted in weight gain.
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“The ‘freshman 15′ is a media myth,” said Jay Zagorsky, co-author of the study, of a common catchphrase in the US regarding weight gain in your first year of college. “Most students don’t gain large amounts of weight. And it is not college that leads to weight gain — it is becoming a young adult.”
(image via: http://www.mynewplace.com/)