Ex­cess Preg­nancy Weight, Over­weight Kids?

Weekend Mirror - - EDITORIAL -

(HealthDay News) -- Kids whose moms were over­weight dur­ing preg­nancy have in­creased odds of be­ing over­weight them­selves -- but the con­nec­tion may be largely ge­netic, a new study sug­gests.

The im­pli­ca­tion, re­searchers said, is that over­weight women are un­likely to in­flu­ence their kids’ fu­ture weight by shed­ding pounds be­fore preg­nancy.

But they also stressed that more re­search is needed to con­firm their find­ings.

And no one is sug­gest­ing that a woman’s weight be­fore and dur­ing preg­nancy is unim­por­tant.

There are plenty of rea­sons to go into preg­nancy at the health­i­est weight pos­si­ble, said Re­becca Rich­mond, the lead re­searcher on the study.

A high body mass in­dex (BMI) raises the risk of preg­nancy com­pli­ca­tions such pre-eclamp­sia and ges­ta­tional diabetes, ex­plained Rich­mond, a se­nior re­search as­so­ciate at the Univer­sity of Bris­tol in Eng­land.

Plus, she said, those ex­tra pounds boost the odds of hav­ing an ab­nor­mally large new­born -- an­other risk fac­tor for com­pli­ca­tions.

The new study, be­ing pub­lished on­line Jan. 24 in PLOS Medicine, tried to ad­dress a ques­tion raised by past re­search: Do preg­nancy pounds, in and of them­selves, af­fect a child’s weight in the long run?

Preg­nancy weight does af­fect birth size, Rich­mond said. But, she added, birth weight is not “de­ter­min­is­tic,” and big­ger new­borns are not nec­es­sar­ily go­ing to be­come big­ger kids.

Rich­mond and her col­leagues fo­cused on over 6,000 mother-child pairs who were taking part in two long-term health stud­ies. The kids’ body mass in­dex (BMI) was recorded through­out child­hood and ado­les­cence. BMI is a mea­sure that roughly es­ti­mates body fat, us­ing weight and height, and in chil­dren, age and sex. In gen­eral, the higher some­one’s BMI, the more body fat they have.

The re­searchers found there was a cor­re­la­tion be­tween moms’ pre-preg­nancy BMI and kids’ BMI across the age span.

But it seemed to be mostly ex­plained by genes.

Us­ing blood sam­ples from moth­ers and their chil­dren, the re­searchers gave each pair a “ge­netic risk score.” That was based on 32 gene vari­ants that have been strongly linked to BMI in past stud­ies.

In the end, Rich­mond’s team found, the ge­netic risk score largely ac­counted for the higher BMI among kids of over­weight moms.

How­ever, the find­ings shouldn’t be con­sid­ered the fi­nal word, said Dr. Siob­han Dolan, an ob­ste­tri­cian-gy­ne­col­o­gist and med­i­cal ad­vi­sor to the non­profit March of Dimes.

“Disen­tan­gling what’s ge­netic and what’s en­vi­ron­men­tal is chal­leng­ing,” said Dolan, who wasn’t in­volved in the study.

For ex­am­ple, she said, kids can also “in- Dear Doc­tor,

How do I know if I have colon cancer? Mar­lon

Dear Mar­lon,

The only way to defini­tively know if you have colon cancer is to be eval­u­ated for it. There are many dif­fer­ent ways of screen­ing for colon cancer. Colonoscopy is con­sid­ered the stan­dard be­cause it not only can de­tect cancer and pre­can­cer­ous polyps, it can also serve as a way to biopsy the ab­nor­mal tis­sue for di­ag­no­sis. In some cases, the doc­tor can com­pletely re­move the polyps be­fore they be­come cancer. You should have a dis­cus­sion with your physi­cian to see if and when you should un­dergo a colonoscopy.

Of­ten­times, colon cancer or pre­can­cer­ous polyps do not pro­duce any symp­toms. In other words, there is noth­ing that sug­gests they are there. That is one of the rea­sons colonoscopy is so im­por­tant as a screen­ing tool. Some­times, pa­tients will have symp­toms that could be caused by colon cancer, such as a change in bowel habits (for ex­am­ple, new on­set of con­sti­pa­tion or need to strain, di­ar­rhea, and/or thin­ning of the cal­iber of stools), crampy ab­dom­i­nal pain, or bleed­ing from the anus with or with­out bowel move­ments. These symp­toms should be eval­u­ated by a physi­cian who can de­ter­mine if you need a colonoscopy.

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