Study Explains Health Risks for both Obese Babies and Moms

By @Len_IBTimes on

Some babies are born obese because obesity starts in the womb of overweight mothers, according to a report by the Daily Mail.

Modern technology's new scanning techniques have allowed British scientists to closely look at fat levels in newborn babies. They found some had stored much belly fat as adults in their 50s. This is the first direct link spotted between the weight of the pregnant mother and the child in her womb.

Scientists remind the parents, obese newborns are more likely to develop health problems, such as heart disease, brittle bones, diabetes and asthma.

In the study led by Professor Neena Modi, British expert on high-risk health problems in newborns, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans showed clear evidence that being overweight or obese in pregnancy could result in potentially harmful changes to a baby's fat levels while still in the womb.

Modi's team, which studied 54 boys and 51 girls at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, found a total of 31 babies had more fat tissue around their abdomen than would have been expected. The babies' fat level increased proportionately with the obesity of the mother, according to the study.

Newborn babies typically have about 700g of fat or adipose tissue, but for each unit increase in maternal BMI, this increased by approximately 7g with a huge build-up in fat in the babies' livers. This build-up puts the baby at risk, considering a newborn baby normally has minimal or no detectable liver fat, said Modi.

"I was very surprised to be able to detect such a clear continuum of effect of maternal BMI (body mass index) on the baby... This is a very important finding indeed, opening the door to a new understanding of how a mother's metabolism affects her baby... This shows how sensitive the baby is to the environment experienced within the womb and how lifelong effects may be initiated before birth.

Professor Modi said it was important that all women hoping to give birth should know that being obese could affect their unborn children's health prospects.

"Adipose tissue not only stores energy and provides insulation, but is also a source of variety of hormones. Being too fat is unhealthy and increases the risk of many diseases... In adults too much adipose tissue around the tummy is particularly bad and is associated with much greater risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes," Modi said.

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