Mom Gaining Too Much, Too Little May Up Child's Obesity Risk

May permanently affect mechanisms that manage energy balance, metabolism in offspring

TUESDAY, April 15, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Children born to mothers who gain either too much or too little weight during their pregnancy are more likely to be overweight or obese, according to a study published online April 14 in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Sneha B. Sridhar, M.P.H., from Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland, and colleagues looked at the medical records of children aged 2 to 5 born to more than 4,100 women in California. They found that 20.4 percent of those children whose mothers gained more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy were overweight or obese, compared to 14.5 percent of those whose mothers gained weight within recommended guidelines. Similar numbers arose when the researchers compared overweight rates for children whose mothers gained less than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy.

Among women with a body mass index in the normal range before pregnancy, those who gained less than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy were 63 percent more likely to have an overweight or obese child, the researchers said. The risk was 80 percent higher among those who gained more than the recommended amount of weight during their pregnancy.

Putting on too few or too many pounds during a pregnancy "may permanently affect mechanisms that manage energy balance and metabolism in the offspring, such as appetite control and energy expenditure," Sridhar said in a statement. "This could potentially have long-term effects on the child's subsequent growth and weight."

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