While women have long been warned that eating too much and gaining too much weight when they’re with child is dangerous, a new study has found piling on pounds doesn’t actually affect a child’s health in the long term.
In fact, researchers from Aberdeen University discovered only very rapid, extreme weight gain impacted an infant’s wellbeing.
Experts looked at data from nearly 4,000 women who gave birth in Scotland between 1950 and 1956, with health records of their children up until 2011 also analysed.
It was found that mothers’ weight gain during pregnancy didn’t impact the risk of their children suffering from a stroke or heart attack, or dying before they reach their 60s. Instead, the team – led by Dr. Sohinee Bhattacharya – noted the offspring’s lifestyle had a bigger impact on their own health rather than the stature of their mothers.
“These findings are quite startling because what they show is that there is basically no relationship between mother’s weight gain in pregnancy and heart disease, or premature death in adulthood,” Dr Bhattacharya said of the results, published in the BMJ journal Heart.
“Only in very extreme cases, where the mother had an exceptionally high weight gain, we found a higher risk of stroke in the adult offspring – however once we took the adults’ lifestyle factors into account – such as BMI and smoking status, this difference disappeared.”
She further explained this study stresses an important public health message – that while children can’t do anything about the weight their mothers gained during pregnancy, they can take their health into their own hands by following a healthy way of living.
Britain’s National Health Service recommends pregnant women shouldn’t up their eating within the first six months of their pregnancy, and that they should only increase their diets by around 200 calories per day in the last three months.
The new research didn’t delve into how weight gain during pregnancy affected the mothers’ health.
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