Obesity during pregnancy
The weight of a woman during pregnancy is usually a 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, preeclampsia, 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. Preeclampsia, 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 Milman 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 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.
The mother’s diet during pregnancy and whether or not the baby was breastfed were left out of the analysis.
When the children were 3 years old, tests were done to assess their motor skills. Those same tests were performed again 4 years later, when they turned 7.
In the studies of the 3-year-old children, the researchers examined their motor skills and noted that the mother’s obesity in pregnancy was linked to cases in which the children’s motor skills were slower.
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.
It should be clarified that although the study found a connection between maternal obesity during pregnancy and the 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 when they had grown up in a cozy home, where they received stimuli for playing and learning.