Smok­ers’ kids an obe­sity risk

The Sunday Times - - NEWS - REGINA TITELIUS Health Re­porter

THE chil­dren of poorer moth­ers who smoked dur­ing preg­nancy have an in­creased risk of the “dou­ble whammy” of obe­sity and de­pres­sion from early child­hood, a new study shows.

The strong link be­tween low­in­come moth­ers who smoked while preg­nant and the co-ex­is­tence of obe­sity and de­pres­sion in their chil­dren was dis­cov­ered by a team at the Univer­sity of Western Aus­tralia as part of the long-run­ning Raine Study.

PhD stu­dent Su­nil Bhat, with the sup­port of UWA Emer­i­tus Pro­fes­sor of Medicine Lawrence Beilin and other re­searchers, made the dis­cov­ery af­ter re­search­ing 20-year-olds who were the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion of par­tic­i­pants in the Raine Study.

Pro­fes­sor Beilin said the chil­dren were iden­ti­fied as obese as early as five years old and showed symp­toms of de­pres­sion as early as eight years old.

“We found those moth­ers who smoked in preg­nancy were the ones whose off­spring were most likely to be both over­weight and more likely to be de­pressed or have symp­toms of de­pres­sion. So it’s a two-way street,” he said.

“But the off­spring of moth­ers who didn’t smoke didn’t show this re­la­tion­ship.

“They could be over­weight but they were not par­tic­u­larly prone to de­pres­sion.

“Then we looked at this a bit fur­ther. While there is this very spe­cific ef­fect of smok­ing dur­ing preg­nancy, was smok­ing do­ing some­thing to the foe­tus in the womb? Or was it more re­lated to the gen­eral so­cio-eco­nomic back­ground, fam­ily be­hav­iours and en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors.

“So we looked at in­come. If you picked out the low­est in­come when the mums were preg­nant, it was those in the low­est in­come cat­e­gories who showed this co-as­so­ci­a­tion with obe­sity and de­pres­sion.”

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