Obesity Starts in the Womb Article – From Midwives Online

25 Oct

Obesity ‘starts in the womb’

Posted: 26 September 2011 by Rob Dabrowski 
Childhood obesity starts in the womb, according to the findings of a new study. 
Weighing scales
Using state-of-the-art magnetic resonance scanning technology, researchers monitored fat levels in unborn babies.The study of 105 babies at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital found that just under a third had more fat around their abdomen than expected.The amount of fat increased proportionately in relation to the body mass index (BMI) of the mother-to-be.

Newborn babies normally have about 700g of adipose tissue, but for each unit increase in maternal BMI, this increased by about 7g, with a large build-up of fat in the liver.

The researchers say this is the first direct link that shows a relationship between the weight of a mother-to-be and her child.

The study was led by Professor Neena Modi, professor of neonatal medicine at Imperial College London.

She said the findings are ‘very important’ and open new doors in understanding the impact a mother’s metabolism can have on her baby.

‘This shows how sensitive the baby is to the environment experienced within the womb and how lifelong effects may be initiated before birth,’ she said.
 
Previous studies have shown obese youngsters are more likely to develop an array of health problems as they grow up.

These include heart disease, brittle bones, diabetes and asthma, among others.

The study is published in the September volume of Pediatric Research journal.

It comes after recent financial figures show obesity cost the NHS £4.2 billion last year and is expected to rise to £6.3 billion by 2015.

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