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Pregnant women urged to eat right

17 April 2014 14:19

Research shows that babies of women who do not gain enough weight are as likely to be obese as those whose mothers gain too much

Research shows that babies of women who do not gain enough weight are as likely to be obese as those whose mothers gain too much

Eating too much, or too little, during pregnancy can result in an overweight child, research suggests.

Scientists from the United States have found that even staying slim during pregnancy could result in obese children.

The study, which tracked the health of more than 4,000 pregnant women and their offspring over a number of years, even reveals the risk is higher for women who are a normal weight at the start of their pregnancy.

Some 20.4% of boys and girls born to women who put on more weight than advised in pregnancy were overweight or obese between the ages of two and five, similar to the total of 19.5% of children born to women who gained less than the recommended amount of weight.

Both instances were more than the 14.5% figure recorded among women who stuck to the weight guidelines.

A slim woman who ate too much in pregnancy was 80% more likely to have a fat child than one who ate the right amount, while one who ate too little was 63% more likely to have a child who was overweight or obese. This suggests that genes cannot be completely blamed for the effect.

The researchers from the Kaiser Permanante Division of Research in Oakland, California, concluded that gaining either too little or too much weight in pregnancy may permanently affect mechanisms that manage energy balance and metabolism in children.

In light of the findings, British experts claim it is imperative that women are given clear advice on how much weight to gain during pregnancy.

The NHS currently advises that weight gain in pregnancy varies greatly, with most women putting on between 22lb to 26lb.

But doctors in the United States offer guidance on how much women of different weights should gain. A woman who goes into pregnancy at a normal, healthy weight, for example, should put on 11lb to 20lb.

Pregnant holidaymakers can enjoy their time away thanks to the peace of mind that pregnancy travel insurance offers. This also protects against holiday cancellation if a little someone arrives earlier than expected.