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After studying infants in Sweden born between 1997 and 2011, researchers from the University of Michigan concluded that being overweight during pregnancy increases the risk of having a child with cerebral palsy.
Medical Xpress reports that analysis of the data comprised by the researchers strongly indicated a link between being obese during pregnancy and cerebral palsy.
“The number of women with a BMI of 35 or more globally doubled from approximately 50 to 100 million from 2000 through 2010,” Professor Villamor, the author of the study, said. “‘In the US, approximately half of all pregnant women have overweight or obesity at the first prenatal visit.”
Considering the high prevalence of obesity and the continued rise of its most severe forms, the finding that maternal overweight and obesity are related to rates of cerebral palsy in a dose-response manner may have serious public health implications.”
The authors of the study noted that maternal obesity and cerebral palsy were low when compared to other risk factors that cause cerebral palsy. However, the increase in maternal obesity continues to raise the risk of babies developing cerebral palsy.
“Each degree of obesity severity during pregnancy increased the chances a child would be diagnosed with cerebral palsy,” Villamor added. “Compared with women of normal weight, women with overweight had a 22 percent higher rate, whereas women with severe obesity had more than twice (more than 100 percent increase) the rate.”
Researchers analyzed more than a million children born full term term, while tracking maternal weight, starting during early pregnancy. The researchers then tracked the children from birth, to the time of their cerebral palsy diagnosis, and ended the follow up at the end of 2012.
Medical experts recommend that women start a plan prior to pregnancy that helps them reach an optimal weight level. Obesity applies to women with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. Women with a BMI between 25-29.9 are considered overweight.
“Women with overweight or obesity who lose weight before pregnancy may decrease the risk of some obstetric complications,” Villamor said.
Villamor indicated that the reason children develop cerebral palsy after maternal obesity is still “poorly understood.” However, babies born to overweight mothers are at risk of going through a traumatic birth experience, which could include neonatal asphyxia, meaning they don’t get enough oxygen during the birthing process. In turn, lack of oxygen can lead to brain damage, which can possibly lead to cerebral palsy.
Keep in mind that if you are already pregnant, medical experts recommend not trying to lose weight on your own. Consult with your doctor, who can help you figure a food plan and provide recommendations to help you have a healthy pregnancy with minimal complications.
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