Search icon


05th Jan 2017

Overweight Parents Put Their Babies At Risk For Developmental Delays

Oh, January… The month when we all collectively vow to eat healthier, be more active and really get to work on shedding those extra Christmas lbs…

As well as making us feel and look better, shedding those excess pounds can, according to a new study, be especially beneficial to growing families. The groundbreaking research, published in the journal Pediatrics, reveals that children of obese parents are more likely to struggle meeting milestones.

Using data from more than 5,000 surveys, researchers from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development measured both parents’ weight and their children’s development. The questionnaire asked mums to perform simple tests with kids up to 3-years-old along with information about themselves and their partners.

And putting the pieces together afterwards, the researchers revealed some pretty alarming results. Toddlers of obese mums were almost 70 percent more likely to fail a test measuring fine motor skills, like stacking blocks or turning pages of a book.

And, more importantly, the research also indicated that both mum and dad’s health could impact kids. In fact, the stats showed that children of obese fathers were 75 percent more likely to struggle with relating and interacting with others. And since very few studies look at the paternal side of things when it comes to baby development, this connection especially stood out to the researchers.

Also, when both parents were obese, another area of development suffered: Kids were almost three times more likely to fall short in a problem-solving test.

As a for a potential ‘why,’ the researchers believe obesity could set off some changes before or during pregnancy. In mothers, the extra weight might promote inflammation, affecting the fetal brain. And as for fathers, obesity may change the genes in their sperm, the researchers speculated.

And while one study like this isn’t enough to prove a definite cause and effect, co-author of the large study Edwina H. Yeung hope that the research can still help physicians right now in helping advise prospective parents on the importance of maintaining a healthy weight.