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article imageOverweight expectant mothers affect their children's IQ

By Tim Sandle     Jan 5, 2020 in Health
A new study finds how a mothers obesity during pregnancy is connected to lag in sons' development, especially with motor skills, and IQ. The same effect was not found with daughters.
The study comes from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and it finds that a mother's obesity during pregnancy affects her child's development years down the road, By development this refers to poorer motor skills by the time the child reaches school, plus a lower IQ in middle childhood (by the age of seven, where IQ schools are five points below the norm).
These effects were noted with boys whose mothers were classified as severely overweight while they were pregnant. Interestingly, the same effect was not found with girls.
The data was drawn from an analysis of 368 mothers and their children. Each mother was from the same socio-economic group and the mothers lived in similar types of neighborhoods. The mothers were assessed both during pregnancy and when their children were aged between 3 and 7 years.
When the children reached the age of three, the scientists recorded the children's motor skills. This led to the finding that maternal obesity during pregnancy correlated with lower motor skills in boys.
When the children were aged seven, the scientists undertook further tests and discovered that boys whose mothers were classed as either overweight or obese in pregnancy recorded IQ test scores 5 or more points below the norm, and when compared to boys whose mothers had been at a normal weight during pregnancy.
These data show how the effects from an obese mother persist over time. According to lead researcher Dr. Elizabeth Widen: "These findings aren't meant to shame or scare anyone. We are just beginning to understand some of these interactions between mothers' weight and the health of their babies."
As to why this happens, there appears to be a connection between the mother's diet and cognitive development. However, no clear cut reason has yet been identified as to why boys are affected by this but not girls, stemming the way for further research.
The research has been published in the journal BMC Pediatrics. The research paper is titled "Prepregnancy obesity is associated with cognitive outcomes in boys in a low-income, multiethnic birth cohort."
More about Obesity, Pregnancy, Women, Mothers
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