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Mother's Prenatal Weight Linked to Childhood Obesity

Race, ethnicity, maternal smoking may also play role

MONDAY, Dec. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Women who are obese before becoming pregnant are more likely than non-obese women to have children who are overweight at an early age, according to a study in the December issue of Pediatrics. Women who are black, Hispanic and those who smoke during pregnancy are also more likely to have obese children, the researchers found.

Pamela J. Salsberry, Ph.D., and Patricia B. Reagan, Ph.D., of Ohio State University in Columbus, analyzed data on 3,022 children from the Child-Mother file of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Each child's weight was measured at three consecutive, biannual intervals between 24 and 95 months of age.

Race, ethnicity, later birth years, maternal smoking during pregnancy and the mother's pre-pregnancy obesity were all associated with early childhood obesity. Being obese at one stage of measurement was predictive of obesity at a later stage and the factors that affected early childhood obesity were also associated with obesity in children at later stages who had earlier had normal weight.

"These findings suggest factors that can be used to identify children who are at high risk for the development of childhood overweight at very young ages, thus providing an opportunity to target intensive preventive strategies before the establishment of an unhealthy weight pattern," the authors conclude.

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