Help your baby; gain less during pregnancy

A health-conscious blogger friend from Australia, Liana Werner-Gray, was gracious enough to feature this post recently on her own blog, The Earth Diet. Liana's blog was suggested to me by my local friend, Pat Stoltey, an author of two wonderful mystery novels.

Original post Aug 13,2010:
I read an article in "The Wall Street Journal" on August 6th that was a long ways away from my usual areas of interest. But in this case, it caught my attention enough to track back to an article published in "The Lancet" the day befores week and another one an Epidemiology journal from nine years ago.The synopsis of the two articles is that women who gain large amounts of weight during pregnancy have large babies. No surprise there. But large babies often end up as large teenagers.

Why did I do that legwork? Well I'm really concerned about our upcoming generation's weight. Lots of youngsters are overweight; too many are obese and heading for trouble, medical-problem-type trouble, down the line. We can blame TV, lack of exercise, fast foods, fat and sugar-laden processed foods, families that let kids decide what they'll eat from early on...all the usual suspects. But here was an idea I hadn't paid much attention to, do some kids start life with an obesity strike or two against them.

My caveat is this really isn't my turf; I'm an Internal Medicine subspecialist. I've delivered fifty babies, but that's old history. Nonetheless, I wanted to see the data and decide if it stood the test of time.

The 2001 piece was a Finnish study that looked at nearly 4,400 sixteen-year-old twins and tracked their progress from birth. Not surprisingly, adolescents who were tall at birth and had tall parents, were often tall at age sixteen. The group I focused on were those who were of normal birth length, but high birth weight.

That group was much more likely to be overweight at age 16. That fits with a number of other studies that didn't focus on twins.

So there's been some good data indicating high birth weight increases chances of high adolescent weight; the same is true for high adolescent weight foreshadowing high adult weight.

Now how much is nature and how much is nurture isn't clear to me. What makes sense if to re-emphasize to young women that gaining average amounts of weight during pregnancy is important. Too much gained increases the chance of heavy babies, heavy teenagers and, eventually heavy adults.

Our youngsters have enough factors that can contribute to their becoming obese adults; why add one more?

If you're a young person planning to have a baby, discuss this one with your own doctor. The life you improve may be your child's.

One Response to “Help your baby; gain less during pregnancy”

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