IOWA CITY, Iowa (UPI) — Babies of overweight/obese mothers gained fewer ounces and grew fewer inches than babies of more average-weight women, U.S. researchers say.
Dr. Katie Larson Ode of the University of Iowa and colleagues at the University of Minnesota compared the weight and height of babies born to overweight and obese mothers with those born to normal-weight mothers.
The study involved 97 mothers — 38 of whom were overweight or obese but none who were diabetic. The researchers found babies of overweight/obese mothers gained 11 ounces less than those born to normal-weight mothers from two weeks to three months, which might play a role in brain development.
“We’ve found these children are not growing normally,” Larson Ode said in a statement. “If what we have found is true, it implies that the obesity epidemic is harming children while they are still in utero and increases the importance of addressing the risk of obesity before females enter the child-bearing years, where the negative effects can affect the next generation.”
The reason for the babies of obese mothers growing less might be due to fat cells that normally help suppress a person’s immune system flare up when an adult is overweight, the researchers said.
The study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, said the state of warfare being waged in an overweight/obese pregnant mother’s immune system might also inflame the fetus’s developing immune system, diverting energy that otherwise would go to the baby’s development.