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Dublin: 5 °C Wednesday 28 February, 2024
FRED ERNST/AP
Fat Foetus?

Babies of overweight mothers 'get fatter in the womb' - study

A study by a maternity hospital in London finds that a mother’s weight tends to be passed on to their child, even before birth.

THE BABIES of overweight mothers are more likely to be born with excess body fat, according to a British study which appears to uncovered a direct link between the weights of mothers and their children.

The study of babies at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital used MRI scans to investigate links between obesity in children and the weight of their mothers – and found evidence that being overweight while pregnant and result in a child’s fat levels becoming dangerously high, even while in the womb.

The Daily Telegraph said the study was the first to point to a direct link between the weight of an expectant mother and the eventual weight of their child – and essentially that overweight mothers tend to give birth to similarly overweight babies.

While a newborn child usually has 700g (1.5lb) in fat tissue, this was found to increase by around 7g for every one-point increase in an expectant mother’s Body Mass Index (BMI).

This extra fat was typically found in the child’s liver – where a typical newborn would otherwise have virtually no fat whatsoever.

Professor Neena Modi, who is considered a leading author on health risks in newborn babies, led the study which studied 105 newborn children at the London hospital.

The Daily Mail explains that she found 31 babies who had more adipose tissue – i.e. fat tissue – around their abdomen than would have legitimately been expected, and that this level increased proportionately with its mother’s own weight.

“I was very surprised to be able to detect such a clear continuum of effect of maternal BMI (body mass index) on the baby,” she said.

“This is a very important finding indeed, opening the door to a new understanding of how a mother’s metabolism affects her baby.

Modi said it was important that mothers be wary of the potential impact of their lifestyle while they were expecting a child.

A person’s Body Mass Index is calculated by measuring their weight in kilograms, and then dividing this by the square of their height in metres.

The World Health Organisation characterises anyone with a BMI of over 25 as ‘overweight’, and over 30 as ‘obese’.