Published: 31 March 2009
Maternal excessive weight gain in pregnancy linked with obesity for adult children
A new study has found that the children of mothers who gain excessive weight during pregnancy are still at risk for obesity once they reach adulthood.
The study is published in the latest edition of Circulation, the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Lead researcher and senior lecturer Dr Abdullah Al Mamun from The University of Queensland's School of Population Health said the study found a link between greater maternal weight gain during pregnancy and higher Body Mass Index in their 21-year-old children.
“This may also translate into higher blood pressure for adult children,” he said.
“Our study supports other evidence suggesting that excessive pregnancy weight gain should be avoided for the health of both mother and child.
“Further large studies are required to confirm the effect of gestational weight gain on a range of cardiovascular risk factors for their children.”
The research was conducted as part of the Mater-University Study of Pregnancy (MUSP), a longitudinal study of over 7000 mothers and their children born at Brisbane's Mater Hospital in Australia in 1981-83.
Dr Mamun said the MUSP project had tracked mothers and their children with assessments done when the children were 6 months and 5, 14, and 21 years of age.
The new study involved researchers from UQ, Mater Children's Hospital, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital (all in Brisbane, Australia) and the University of Bristol in the UK.
It looked at responses from 2432 pairs of mothers and children, examining the association between maternal gestational weight gain and their children's Body Mass Index and blood pressure at 21 years. The study included nearly an equal number of male and female children.
Dr Manun said some previous studies had found a link between maternal weight gain and their children's body mass index and obesity risk in childhood.
The new study confirmed that this increased risk persisted into adulthood.
Dr Mamun said the average pregnancy weight gain for mothers participating in the study was 14.8 kg, an average of 0.4kg per week.
While 41 per cent of participants gained adequate weight during pregnancy, and 25 percent gained inadequate weight, some 34 percent of women gained excessive weight during pregnancy.
The study found that for every 0.1kg/week greater increase in maternal gestational weight, the Body Mass Index of their children at age 21 was greater on average by 0.3 kg/m2. Systolic blood pressure was also greater in children whose mothers had higher weight gain during pregnancy.
Researchers participating in the study were Dr Abdullah Mamun, Dr Michael O'Callaghan, Dr Leonie Callaway, Professor Gail Williams, Professor Jake Najman and Professor Debbie A. Lawlor.
The core study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. For the new study, Dr Mamun was supported by the National Heart Foundation of Australia and Professor Lawlor received a grant from the US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health.
Media: Dr Al Mamun, 07 3346 4689, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Jan King at UQ Communications, telephone 07 3365 1120.
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