Study Links Parental Obesity to Delays in Child Development

By Jamie Nelson, | January 11, 2017

A study has linked parental obesity to delays in childhood development. (YouTube)

A study has linked parental obesity to delays in childhood development. (YouTube)

A new research suggests that children of parents who are obese could be at a greater risk of facing developmental delays. Parent's weight and general physical health are now being considered as contributory factors to developmental delays in children.

It is estimated that in the United States, one in five women would develop obesity during pregnancy, according to CNN. The healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) during pregnancy is between 18.5 and 24. However, those who become obese border around an unhealthy figure of 30.

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The study, which compared parental obesity and childhood development, was conducted by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Scientists not only took into consideration the weight gain of mothers but also that of fathers.

Dr. Edwina Yeung, a scientist at the institute, suggested that a father's weight also plays a role in a child's development. The study took into account more than 4,000 children between the ages of three years and four months.

According to the National Institute of Health, children of obese mothers had difficulty in exercising their smaller muscles. Those included muscles in their hands or fingers. Furthermore, in instances of paternal obesity, children were found to be lacking in social activities including playing, feeding, dressing. Among children with both parents obese, it was found that the youngsters found problem-solving to be increasingly difficult.

The authors of the study noted that the link between parental obesity and increased developmental delays in children remains unknown. However, scientists reported that studies in animals indicated obesity during pregnancy could lead to inflammation, contributing to effects on the fetal brain.

Researchers noted that should the link be confirmed between developmental delays and parental obesity, doctors would need to take parental weight into account in future when monitoring children for early intervention programs.

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