The new study finds that the mothers who were obese during their pregnancies more likely to have sons with lower IQs. According to the research by Columbia University and the University of Texas at Austin revealed that the cognitive health and development of boys is impacted by the mother’s BMI during pregnancy.
The study is published in the journal “BMC Pediatrics” and is available online to view.
This cohort study observed 368 different subjects from a low-income African American and Dominican women during the second half of their pregnancy and evaluated their children after three and seven years. The study outcomes showed that the sons of obese or overweight mothers were likely to show lower intelligence as 7 years old and less developed motor skills as 3-year-old boys as compared to boys whose mothers had normal BMI during pregnancies.
Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18.5 and 25 is normal. Among the pregnant mothers examined during this study, 23.0% of them were overweight and 22% had BMIs more than 30 and were obese.
The study found that maternal obesity was correlated with their sons’ IQ scores with 4.6 and nearly 9 points lower than those of other boys whose mothers were having normal BMIs before pregnancy. The same phenomenon was not observed among the daughters of obese mothers
An assistant professor at UT Austin dealing with nutritional sciences, Elizabeth Widen said that this study isn’t meant to scare or shame anyone. It’s just a step towards a better understanding of correlations between the mother’s weight and its effects on the baby’s health.
The researchers found that maternal obesity and the increased gestational weight gain (GWG) affect low-income people disproportionally. The study’s subject was the sections of the cohort study of urban birth at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health in New York City.
The correlation between the lower cognitive development in boys and the obesity of mothers during pregnancies persisted while controlling the variety of other factors which includes ethnic background and race, the educational attainment and the mother’s IQ, level of mother and child interaction and the marital status.
According to Columbia University, the reason for maternal obesity affecting childhood IQ is unclear but the earlier studies have already suggested the close relationship between the children’s later IQ and a mother’s diet.
The authors claimed that this study is worth the hype as childhood IQ is an indicator of late-life success. So studying the mother’s obesity affecting the IQ of the baby is necessary. The researchers concluded that these outcomes are important for the high prevalence of maternal obesity and the long term association of early cognitive development.
These current findings supported earlier research on pregnancy and obesity. A report by the National Institutes of Health correlated the maternal obesity to several negative outcomes which included increased risks to the mother’s health as well as increased chances of stillbirths, miscarriage, and conditions such as a neural tube, spina bifida, and congenital heart diseases.
Over a decade, obesity has been a major health problem contributing to epidemic proportions across the United States. The research already warned that half of the adults in the United States will be obese by 2030.