More Reason to Get Fit Before Pregnancy

According to a recent study published in Pediatrics, a child is more likely to be overweight at a young age if his mother was overweight before she became pregnant.

Ohio State University researchers studied data from more than 3,000 children and their mothers. They examined factors such as race, ethnicity, the mother's pre-pregnancy weight (based on her recollection), whether or not the mother smoked during pregnancy, and whether or not she breastfed her baby. In addition to this, children's weights were recorded regularly between ages 3 and 7. Of all these factors, a mother's pre-pregnancy weight had the greatest impact on her child's weight. The children of women who were overweight before pregnancy were three times more likely to be overweight by age seven compared to women whose weights were healthy before conception. The more overweight a woman was, the greater her child's risk of obesity became.

This study also found that:
  • Black and Hispanic children were overweight 4-6% more than white children.
  • Children of women who smoked during pregnancy were more likely to be overweight.
  • Formula-fed babies were more likely to be overweight than children who were breastfed as babies.
According to the lead author of the study, Pamela Salsberry, who is also associate professor of nursing at Ohio State University, a child's weight tends to be consistent over time. Children in the study who were overweight at age three were likely to still be overweight at age seven. Other research shows that overweight children tend to grow into overweight adults.

Action Sparked: Not only do overweight women experience higher risks for gestational diabetes and complicated deliveries, but now research is showing that simply being overweight can affect your child's weight-even before he is born. This is likely due to lifestyle factors, such as lack of exercise or poor diet, which parents often pass on to their children inadvertently. Take time before conception to exercise regularly and eat a healthy, balanced diet. This will help you achieve a healthy weight before conception; continuing these practices during pregnancy and beyond will not only control your weight gain over time, but allow you to emulate and teach healthy habits to your children as well.