After following more than 100,000 children from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, and the Danish National Birth Cohort, researchers found gaining more than the mean of 14 pounds during the first year of life may put a baby at risk for developing type 1 diabetes. In fact, for each pound over that number, a child is 20 percent more likely to develop the condition, in which the body does not produce insulin crucial for converting glucose into energy, by the age of 9.
It's important to note that no cause-and-effect relationship was determined in this study, which was published this week in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. And researchers were quick to point out that weight gain is only one factor that puts a child at risk for the disease, and cautioned parents against trying to put their babies on any type of diet.
"The findings indicate that the early childhood environment influences the likelihood of developing type 1 diabetes," explained lead researcher Maria Magnus, of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. She added, "The absolute risk of developing type 1 diabetes for a child is relatively modest, and any potential influence of weight gain is likely to be of limited magnitude for most individuals."
Talk to your pediatrician about appropriate weight gain for your infant. And focus on the takeaway of this study: A healthy weight at any age decreases your odds for developing a host of medical conditions, from diabetes, to heart disease, and cancer.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.