-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, Oct. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Children whose mothers were
overweight and smoked during pregnancy are at increased risk of
being overweight, a new study has found.
The researchers also found that a high birth weight and rapid
weight gain during the first year of life increase the risk of
children being overweight.
The authors of the report, which was published online Oct. 29 in
Archives of Disease in Childhood, reviewed 30 studies
published between 1990 and 2011. The studies, which involved more
than 200,000 people, tracked children's health from birth until at
least the age of 2 years.
The analysis revealed several important and independent risk
factors that increased children's risk of being overweight. By
itself, smoking during pregnancy increased the risk by nearly 48
percent, but this may be because smoking is a good indicator of
mothers' other social and lifestyle characteristics, Dr. Stephen
Weng, of the U.K. Center for Tobacco Control Studies at the
University of Nottingham, and colleagues said in a journal news
The investigators also found that breast-feeding and late
weaning helped to reduce the chances of children being overweight.
For example, breast-feeding cut the risk by 15 percent, the study
authors noted in the news release.
There was no link between mother's age, level of education,
ethnicity or depression symptoms and children's risk of being
overweight. Evidence was inconclusive for type of delivery, weight
gain during pregnancy, weight loss after pregnancy and whether a
child was a fussy eater, the authors added.
"Several risk factors for both overweight and obesity in childhood are identifiable during infancy," Weng and colleagues concluded in the report. "Future research needs to focus on whether it is clinically feasible for health care professionals to identify infants at greatest risk."
Although the study found an association between certain maternal
and early childhood factors and a child's risk of being overweight,
it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
The U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
explains how parents can keep their children at a
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