Bright Side
Bright Side

A Study Suggests That Obesity During Pregnancy May Affect the Brain Development of the Future Child

The bond between mother and child is the most intense in human nature. Bringing a child into the world causes resounding changes in the life of the woman, who will no longer be the same. And, beyond the joy and happiness that can mean carrying a new human being in your belly, there is something fundamental to this new role: responsibility. And we are not just talking about parenting and education. It starts with protecting the health of your child during pregnancy.

We at Bright Side would like to share a study with you that suggests there is a connection between maternal obesity during pregnancy and problems with the child’s future intellectual development. However, we should remind you that you should always consult with your doctor about anything that has to do with your child’s development.

Obesity during pregnancy

The weight of a woman during pregnancy is usually a cause for concern for both her and her obstetrician. It is necessary that the weight increase is gradual and is within the healthy limits for each gestation period. Among the complications that obesity can cause in women during pregnancy, are high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, and gestational diabetes.

You can find out if you are overweight or obese by using a table that measures body mass index (BMI).

Obesity and pregnancy risks

When a pregnant woman gains too much weight, it is often believed that only her health will be compromised. That is to say: we do not take into account that this is a problem that can also affect the baby. Pre-eclampsia, for example, can be risky for pregnancy. Although it is normal for mothers with this condition to give birth without complications, there is a risk of premature birth or, in certain cases, miscarriage.

A team of specialists from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and the University of Texas published a study at BMC Pediatrics, in which they associated a mother’s obesity during pregnancy with some difficulties in the subsequent development of their children.

The study

The team of epidemiologists, nutritionists, and environmental health researchers studied 368 mothers and their children, both during pregnancy and when the children were 3 and 7 years old. The 368 cases chosen belonged to members of the same economic and social rank. The ethnicity, marital status, level of education, and IQ of the mothers were taken into account. Attention was also paid to the gestation period in which the baby was born and the environmental conditions to which it was exposed.

When the children were 3 years old, tests were done to assess their response to the environment and their social relations. Other tests were performed again 4 years later, when they turned 7 to check their verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory, and processing speed.

Results

When the children were re-examined at age 7, it was discovered that the male children of mothers who had been overweight or obese during pregnancy had a lower IQ than those born to women who had had a normal weight. That difference was 5 points or more and it only occurred in men.

Conclusions

It should be clarified that although the study found a connection between maternal obesity during pregnancy and problems in the aforementioned children, it was not possible to determine the reason or reasons why this occurs.

On the other hand, the study considered the environment of each child and found that the impact of maternal obesity during pregnancy on a child’s IQ was lower or non-existent when they had grown up in a cozy home, where they received stimuli for playing and learning.

Do you know how much weight your mother gained when she was pregnant with you? If you have been pregnant, what was your weight gain experience? Please share with us in the comments.

Please note: This article was updated in February 2022 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.
Bright Side/Family & kids/A Study Suggests That Obesity During Pregnancy May Affect the Brain Development of the Future Child
Share This Article
You may like these articles