Based on parentsí reports, children with obese mothers were 67
percent more likely to have delayed fine motor skill development by
age 3 compared to kids with normal or underweight mothers, even
after accounting for the fatherís weight, the study found.
With obese fathers, children were 71 percent more likely to have
deficits in personal and social skills after taking their mothers'
weight into account, the study also found.
When both parents were obese, kids were almost three times more
likely to struggle with problem-solving.
"The immediate take home message is that everyone - male or female,
contemplating parenthood or not - should try to achieve a healthy
body weight, through appropriate diet and lifestyle," said lead
study author Edwina Yeung, a researcher at the National Institutes
The study assessed delays based on questionnaires completed by
parents, and so it can't prove that obesity directly causes
developmental problems, Yeung added by email.
"We donít have actual diagnoses for the kids," Yeung said. "At this
point, we donít know whether the kids will have problems, or whether
theyíll outgrow what we found on the (screening questionnaires)."
Yeung and colleagues examined data from questionnaires parents
completed for 3,759 singleton babies and 1,062 non-related twins,
when the children were 4, 8, 12, 18, 24, 30 and 36 months old.
Questions screened for developmental delays in five areas: fine
motor skills, gross motor skills, communication, personal and social
functioning, and problem-solving ability.
Researchers examined the odds of developmental delays associated
with parental obesity after accounting for other factors that can
impact these milestones such as parents' age, race or ethnicity,
education and income levels, marital status, health insurance and
Even though the study didn't examine how parents' obesity might
influence child development, it's possible obese mothers might have
babies more prone to inflammation, which can in turn impact
neurological development in children, the authors note in
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Obese fathers might pass certain genetic material on to their
children that makes delays more likely, though less is known about
how menís weight impacts children, the researchers point out.
Limitations of the study include the lack of data from follow-up
exams to confirm whether children actually had developmental
deficits, the researchers wrote.
Still, the findings add to a growing body of evidence linking
maternal obesity in particular to neurodevelopmental problems such
as autism spectrum disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder, said Elinor Sullivan, a researcher at the University of
Portland and Oregon Health and Science University who wasn't
involved in the study.
"In an ideal scenario, the parents would be a healthy body weight
prior to conception," Sullivan added by email.
If parents are overweight or obese upon conception, there are still
many things that they can do to benefit their childís development,
These include following a healthy diet, getting moderate or even
mild exercise, and avoiding exposure to cigarette smoke, alcohol,
and chemicals found in cleaning and personal hygiene products.
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/2hOzycM Pediatrics, online January 2, 2017.
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